State News

In tough economy, more turn to lottery

Posted September 17, 2008

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— North Carolina's lottery brought in 25 percent more money this week than it did the same time last year, leading some to worry that people are playing out of desperation in tough economic times.

The state lottery grossed $189 million in lottery sales in July and August, compared with $152 million in the same period last year.

Lottery executive director Thomas Shaheen said the higher payout that legislators approved for scratch-off, instant-winner games helped boost sales.

Others aren't sure. University researchers suggest that when economic times get tough, lotteries gain in popularity, according to The News & Record newspaper of Greensboro.

Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of N.C. Policy Watch, a government watchdog group, said lottery sales across the country are going up as the economy struggles. He said that shows people who can least afford to play are losing more.

"It's always disturbing when lottery sales go up dramatically," Fitzsimon said. "When times are hard, people are even more desperate. Sadly, I think they're more likely to play the lottery."

Christal Kelly said she plays for fun, but she admitted that she plays more now that the economy is down and gas and food prices are up.

"I think it makes sense that people are putting a lot of their money in the lottery in hopes of winning big bucks," Kelly said.

Shaheen disagreed and said sales are hurt by economic downturns the same way as other goods and services that compete for people's discretionary spending.

"I think we could be growing at a greater rate than we are right now," he said, adding that players all know the lottery is a game with long odds of winning.

"As long as they do that responsibly and play within their means, it's just another form of entertainment," he said.

The state budget is banking on solid lottery sales. Lawmakers predicted a 17 percent increase over the last fiscal year when they wrote the budget.

If the lottery hits that mark, $385 million would go to public education.


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  • something2say Sep 18, 2008

    Rich or poor we are on our own to spend it! Wisely or not, Lottery is reality! It is bringing in revenue for the state that used to go to VA or SC! Do poor people waste their money on it? Yep! But if they did not buy that ticket they probably would have wasted it on chips and increase my chance of paying more of their medical bills! Either way they are wasting their money. It is there right.

  • bs101fly Sep 18, 2008

    here's YET ANOTHER ignorant & truly uninformed comment,
    "where do you think the money for schools comes from?"

    If you think much AT ALL comes from THIS lottery YOU have been sniffin' glue!

    THIS is the BIGGEST LIE I've ever seen and the lottery gang should be SUED for continuing to MIS-USE the word EDUCATION and misleading the public!

  • BigUNCFan Sep 18, 2008

    Lotteries are for people who are destined to stay poor.

    even if you win, most of the people just spend it on so called friends and cars and junk and end up poor again in about 10 years even if they are millionaires. Some people attract money while others repell it.

  • bonowell Sep 18, 2008

    If it were not for the lottery, the NC budget hole would be deeper and to support the increasing expansion of schools -- most likely our taxes would be raised to pay for this growth. So let those folks who want to pay - play and let those lottery dollars educate our kids.

  • SaveEnergyMan Sep 18, 2008

    hereandnow is right about it being a tax on those who can't do math. Even though there is a miniscule chance of winning it big - where do you think the money for schools comes from? It's like driving down the strip in Vegas - where does all that money come from? From those who think they can hit it big. Sure, a few do, but most go home poorer. I wonder what the chances are of finding that stock that ready to explode up (like Microsoft in the early 80's or Google)? It's a lousy investment beyond a few bucks a week and it's only real value is for the entertainment - that is, a luxury.

  • bs101fly Sep 18, 2008

    Tom SheehanMale is happy because he doesn't care whether you're dumb or smart, all he cares about is that his precious ticket sells are up.
    Which means HE is making money and YOU are not!

  • ReallyBigYawn Sep 17, 2008

    Pie in the sky let down! Waste of sure money.

  • kbo0801 Sep 17, 2008

    Lottery is like everything else that people do and if you want to talk about morals then, people should not over eat, over drink, over sex, over talk or do anything else that people do excessively. At least playing the lottery is going towards schools. Rich people play...poor people people play...hispanic people play and white people play as well. The chances of someone winning the lottery is almost greater than someone getting a paycheck in today's economy.

  • BULLDOZER Sep 17, 2008

    "i play the lottery,and win,so keep your stupid jobs and go to WORK TOMORROW.I made over 20,000 last year TAX FREE so there u go dummies".......
    Does this person not know that all winnings are taxable? I guess this person just verified the type of folks playing the lottery. After taxes the $20,000 will be $10,000 or so. Don't know about you out there, but that might get my family a few months of living. I will just keep working on the American dream SANS the lottery

  • 050462 Sep 17, 2008

    i play the lottery,and win,so keep your stupid jobs and go to WORK TOMMORROW.I made over 20,000 last year TAX FREE so there u go dummies