BEIJING, July 11 (Xinhua) -- The value of welfare lottery sales in China as of the end of this May had reached almost 450 billion yuan (66 billion U.S. dollars), since the welfare program was first launched 23 years ago, helping to raise about 149 million yuan for the public welfare fund, an official from lottery administration agency said Sunday.
The public welfare fund has been used to build and expand more than 150,000 welfare facilities, including social welfare institutes, homes for the elderly in rural areas, sheltering centers for homeless minors and schools for orphans, said Bao Xuequan, director of the Welfare Lottery Distribution and Management Center at a two-day international forum on the reform and development of the social welfare service, held in Beijing on Saturday and Sunday.
The fund has been used in helping AIDS orphans, disaster survivors and the disabled, as well as for providing social medical aids, humanitarian assistance and legal assistance to people in need, Bao said.
China's welfare lottery started in 1987, when the Civil Affairs Ministry was authorized by the State Council, the Cabinet, to raise welfare funds through lottery sales.
Many welfare lotteries have since been established such as spot lottery, lotto and keno -- directly employing about 300,000 employees.
"The sale of welfare lottery was the guarantee for the country's social welfare development, employment and economic advancement," Bao said.