Lottery Sales Higher In Poor Counties
Special Report - March 30, 2012
A new analysis finds that North Carolina counties with high poverty rates are much more likely to have per capita lottery sales significantly higher than the state average of $212 per adult. The report, “Prosperity seen as a scratch ticket away in poorest counties,” from N.C. Policy Watch found that North Carolinians spent more than $1.5 billion on lottery tickets in 2011, and adults across the state “spent $212 per capita on the lottery in 2011.” This is the second year N.C. Policy Watch has conducted an analysis comparing county sales data provided by the Lottery with “adult populations poverty estimates from the U.S. Census.”
According to the report, more than 17 percent of North Carolinians live below the poverty line. It went on to show that lottery sales figures per adult are significantly highersometimes more than double the statewide averagein many of North Carolina’s poorest counties. Among the report’s key findings:
- The poverty rate tops 20 percent in 37 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. More than 70 percent of those 37 counties (26 counties) saw “per capita lottery sales that topped the state average.”
- Seven counties had per capita sales over $400 in 2011Lenoir, Edgecombe, Wilson, Nash, Hyde, Halifax, and Vance. Only Nash County has a poverty rate lower than 20 percent.
- Nine counties had per capita sales between $301 and $400 in 2011Beaufort, Washington, Bertie, Martin, Hertford, Duplin, Cumberland, Lee, and Granville. Only Cumberland and Lee have a poverty rate lower than 20 percent.
- “In 2011, per capita lottery sales spiked in the eastern part of the state, where $561 to $367 was spent on lottery tickets for every adult in the 10 counties with the highest per capita sales Nash, Halifax, Vance, Wilson, Hyde, Edgecombe, Lenoir, Washington, Martin and Bertie counties,” the report states.
- Of the 10 counties with the highest per capita lottery sales, nine of them have “more than 20 percent of the total population living under the federal poverty line.”
The report did find some exceptions to the “high-poverty, high-lottery sales formula.” Nash County with a poverty rate of 15.6 percent boasted per capital lottery sales of $561. Graham County with a 22.5 percent poverty rate had the lowest per capita lottery sales in the state.
Interestingly, the analysis cites “a 2006 study by the Consumer Federation of America and the Financial Planning Association” that found that “[o]ne in every five Americans believe that winning the lottery is the most practical way to amass personal wealth.”
Report: NC Should End Lottery - February 10, 2011
Lottery Funds Transferred - February 1, 2011
Study Says Lottery Entices Poor - January 7, 2011
Lottery Funding Shifts From Education - September 30, 2010
Lottery Revenues Rise With Unemployment - February 2, 2010
Economy Down, Lottery Up - July 11, 2009
Governor Seizes "Education" Lottery Funds - February 27, 2009
Lottery Sales Holding Steady - February 19, 2009
Lottery Revenues Up As Economy Slows - September 18, 2008
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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