In FY 2006, U.S. lottery sales reached $56.4 billion, an increase of 9% from the year before. This is the highest annual total since the lottery began, and New York, Massachusetts and Texas were the top three states in 2003, accounting for 28% of the national lottery’s sales. In total, fifteen states received more than $1 billion in lottery profits. La Fleur’s tracks lottery sales across the country, including California, Texas and the District of Columbia.
Participation in lottery games varies by income level and race, with African-Americans spending more than other income groups. People in poor households and with no high school diploma have the highest percentage of participation, as is the case with lottery players with low income levels. Despite the fact that lottery spending is higher among low-income groups, respondents do not share the rosy views about lottery payouts. Per capita lottery spending is highest among those aged 45-64, while those aged 65-plus spend the least.
The NGISC report does not provide evidence that lottery plays target the poor. From a political and business standpoint, it would be immoral to market lottery products to lower-income groups. Furthermore, many people buy lottery tickets outside of their own neighborhoods. While these neighborhoods may be associated with low-income residents, they are often passed by higher-income people. Additionally, they have few gas stations, stores, and lottery outlets. That is a good indication that lottery playing is largely in neighborhoods that are associated with lower-income residents.