In Japan, in an effort to alleviate slumping sales, on Friday, the internal affairs ministry said that effective October, people will be able to buy lottery tickets online for a majority of public-run lotteries, The Japan Times reports.

According to the news agency, tickets will be able to be purchased for the popular Jumbo Takarakuji series, which offer a prize of JPY 1 billion and are sold five times throughout the year. Also available for purchase will be regular Takarakuji tickets and the Loto and Numbers series.

Individuals who wish to purchase the available lottery tickets online will first have to register as members on the website. Cash prizes will reportedly be wired to the designated bank accounts of winners.

Commenting on the move a ministry official reportedly said, “One reason (to push the online option) is because lottery sales have been decreasing.”

The Japan Times reports that lottery ticket sales have been on the decline since peaking in fiscal 2005, when approximately JPY 1.1 trillion worth of tickets were sold. In 2016, sales of lottery tickets reached just over JPY 845 billion (US$7.7 billion).

The official reportedly said that approximately 93 percent of lottery tickets are sold via outlets near train stations. However, their hours of business are limited and some areas are without outlets, which likely makes for numerous missed sales opportunities.

Another explanation for faltering sales is that individuals 50 years of age or older comprise approximately 60 percent of store sales, which the official reportedly said implies that “efforts to reach potential customers in younger generations have been weak, and that expanding sales channels to web and smartphones is needed.”

Cities and prefectural governments sell lottery tickets and for use as part of their budgets, retain a portion of the revenues.

Seiko Noda, internal affairs minister, said she hopes that the new online lottery service attracts 500,000 users within the first six months.

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