BEIJING, March 1 (Xinhua) — China’s lottery sales surged 31.4 percent year on year to 38.3 billion yuan (about 6.1 billion U.S. dollars) in January, according to the Ministry of Finance.

The ministry attributed the strong growth to a low comparison base last year.

Sales of welfare lottery tickets increased 19.3 percent year on year to 19.3 billion yuan in January, while sports lottery sales went up 46.7 percent to 19 billion yuan, the ministry said.

In January, 30 provincial-level regions saw growth in lottery sales, driven by strong sales in Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hunan, Shandong and Shaanxi, according to the ministry.

Under lottery management rules, money from lottery ticket sales must cover administrative fees, public welfare projects and prize money.