Study Says Lottery Entices The Poor
Special Report - January 7, 2011
A recent study by N.C. Policy Watch found that North Carolinians from counties with high poverty levels spend more money on state gambling through scratch-off games and lottery tickets. According to the study, the average adult in North Carolina spent an average of $200.11 playing the lottery in 2010. In 2009-2010, the lottery reported $1.42 billion in total sales. In 2008, the U.S. Census reported 14.6 percent of North Carolina’s population living below the poverty line. The results of the study include:
- High per-capita sales were concentrated in the eastern part of the state.
- Counties with larger poverty populationsdefined as a household of four living on less than $22,000 per yearyielded the highest per-capita sales numbers.
- Of the 24 counties with a poverty rate of at least 20 percent, 22 had per-capita sales above the statewide average of $200.11.
- Eight counties posted per capita sales of more than double the statewide average, including Edgecombe ($468.88), Halifax ($471.95), Hyde ($434.14), Lenoir ($423.92), Nash ($536.11), Vance ($488.25), Washington ($435.84), and Wilson ($428.40) counties. Of these counties, only Nash has a poverty rate below 21 percent.
- Madison county, with a 17.7 percent poverty rate, posted the lower per-capita sales of $41.48, followed by Clay county’s $45.47 (with a 15.2 percent poverty rate).
N.C. Policy Watch has converted the study’s findings into an interactive map that is available online here.
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, Van Denton, director of communications for the lottery, responded to the study saying, “First of all, one of our guiding principles here at the Education Lottery is that the lottery is entertainment, and money spent on lottery tickets should come from people’s entertainment dollars.” He continued, “The point at which it’s no longer entertainment and they’re spending money that should go to rent or groceries or bills is the point at which a person should probably stop playing. We don’t need those kinds of sales.”
Additionally, the Journal reported that Denton had pointed out that the study did not consider that some people may have bought lottery tickets in a different county from the one in which they live.
Lottery Reflects Poor Economy - December 17 2010.
Lottery Funding Shifts From Education - September 30, 2010
Lottery Revenues Rise With Unemployment - February 2, 2010
Governor Seizes "Education" Lottery Funds - February 27, 2009
Lottery Revenue Fails to Make Significant Impact - September 25, 2007
Easley Recommends Increasing Lottery Prize Payouts - February 23, 2007
A Lottery Education: Dispelling the Education Lottery Myth - [PDF] - Findings - April 2004
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