Scholarship and education

Training professional gamblers at PKU

They've got a system.
"There is not a single professional among the tens of thousands of people working in the lottery industry."

So says Wang Xuehong, director of the China Center for Lottery Studies at Peking University, as quoted in The Beijing News. The center had originally planned on recruiting twenty or thirty students for its first MPA class in lottery studies. They ended up with two. Those two students attended general MPA courses this semester, and will continue to do so next semester until a curriculum can be worked out.

And until proper instructors can be found - the program brought in guest lecturers last term from Macao and Nevada.

The purpose of this program, in the words of Wang Xuehong, is "on the one hand, to create a healthier environment for playing the lottery, and on the other hand, to improve sales of lottery tickets." Students will be educated in "policy relating to the legal apparatus, taxes, welfare, and innovation in operating and oversight structure of lottery, horse-racing, and entertainment industries of developed countries, Hong Kong and Macao, and surrounding countries, as well as the place and function of the government in those areas." With MPA degrees, perhaps lottery officials can avoid repeating past mistakes, like the scandal over the BMW awarded to a 17-year-old, or the unwinnable lottery in Xinjiang.

The program is also apparently meant to bring in lots of money. Tuition at other MPA programs at PKU, Tsinghua, and Renmin run between 35,000 and 42,000 RMB, while the lottery program, officially called "Welfare Administration," costs 100,000 RMB.

Not everyone understands, however. Debate continues over whether the country should relax rules on gambling, and critics accuse the lottery MPA program of undermining China's current regulations, especially in today's anti-corruption climate. This summer, the CCLS revealed that 700 billion RMB was spent on gambling activities last year, compared to 80 billion in legit lottery sales. Is the MPA program training talent to beef up the state lottery to attract players back from the dark side? Or are these students being groomed as officials for some future National Gaming Commission?

Public opinion at the PKU doesn't take the program seriously at all - students are called "master conmen" (千王之王), and Liu Xingang, who has worked in the lottery sector since 1995, has to continually explain to classmates looking for a winning system that "even if I research for a lifetime, I won't be able to help you win the jackpot."

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