Lottery Revenues up as Economy Slows
Special Report - September 18, 2008
Despite rising unemployment rates and consumer costs in North Carolina, the North Carolina lottery is benefiting from increasing sales. Between July 2007 and July 2008, North Carolina’s unemployment rate increased almost 2 percentage points up from 4.7 percent to 6.6 percent, meaning more North Carolinians are out of work. At the same time, North Carolina’s consumer price index climbed 5.4 percent since August 2007. This increase means that North Carolina consumers are spending more money on average on necessities than they did a year ago. Despite these downward trends in the economy, lottery revenue in July and August of 2008 was $189.6 million, up 25 percent from the same period last year. North Carolina’s increased lottery sales are in line with a national trend reported in the New York Times showing 29 of 42 state lotteries experiencing increased sales this fiscal year, with 22 of those setting records.
Thomas Shaheen, executive director of the North Carolina lottery, attributes the increase in lottery revenues to the introduction of higher payouts for some lottery games. He alleges that lotteries experience the negative effects of economic downturns the same as any business that competes for consumer discretionary funds.
“These disturbing trends highlight the predatory nature of the lottery,” said John Rustin, director of government relations for the North Carolina Policy Council. “At the same time North Carolina families are burdened by job losses and higher consumer prices, especially at the gas pump, the lottery continues to entice our citizens to throw their hard-earned dollars away on a “get rich quick” scheme.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.