WBC boosts lottery sales, tourism
CNATAIPEI -- Taiwan's national baseball team has not only boosted the morale of home fans by winning its first two 2013 World Baseball Classic games over the weekend, it has also spurred sports lottery and tourism benefits.
March 5, 2013, 2:17 pm TWN
A total of NT$11.3 million (US$380,000) in sports lottery tickets were sold prior to Taiwan's 4-1 victory over Australia on Saturday, Hung Chu ming, a manager at Taiwan Sport Lottery Corp. said.
That win led to nearly NT$20 million in wagers being placed on the following day's game between Taiwan and the Netherlands, which Taiwan won 8-3, he said.
Hung expects betting ahead of Taiwan's battle Tuesday against archrival South Korea, which could determine who advances to the second round of the tournament, to set a record.
Taiwan's fans and sports lottery have had every reason to cheer, especially with one of the World Baseball Classic's four first-round groups being played on home soil, at the Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taichung.
Taiwan's national team, which includes former Major League Baseball pitchers Chien-Ming Wang and Hong-Chih Kuo, leads Pool B with a 2-0 record after two days of play, followed by the Netherlands at 1-1 and South Korea and Australia at 0-1.
South Korea lost to the Dutch 5-0 on Saturday and would play Australia later Tuesday, with the losing side unable to advance to the next round.
The top two teams in the pool's round robin competition that ends Tuesday advance to the second round, which starts in Tokyo on March 8.
According to Taiwan Sport Lottery, during the previous World Baseball Classic in 2009, lottery ticket sales totaled NT$19.3 million ahead of Taiwan's opener against South Korea, which Taiwan lost 9-0.
Wagers then fell to NT$11.87 million before Taiwan was eliminated from the tourney by an embarrassing 4-1 loss to baseball minnows China, the company said.
The positive start to Taiwan's current World Baseball Classic campaign and the capacity crowds of over 20,000 it has drawn to Taichung have also proved to be a boon for the host city.
The tournament has helped Taichung's promotional efforts and injected vitality into the city's tourism sector, said Mayor Jason Hu.
Though it is currently a low season following the Lunar New Year holiday earlier this month, the hotels accommodating the baseball teams for the Classic are either fully or almost fully occupied, according to Taichung hotel operators.