wenty-two of those 29, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, set sales records. In addition, sales in some states are on pace to finish higher still this year. Some economists say the record lottery sales are being driven, in part, by people who are trying to turn a lottery ticket into prosperity in light of the country’s staggering economy.
"When people view themselves as doing worse financially, then that motivates them to purchase lottery tickets," said Emily Haisley, a postdoctoral associate at the Yale School of Management, in a recently published report. In July, Haisley published a research paper on lotteries in The Journal of Behavioral Decision Making. "People look to the lottery to get back to where they were financially," she said.
Rebecca Hargrove, president of the Tennessee Lottery, said that during her 25 years working in lotteries she has noticed people tend to cut back on spending if there is a recession or a downturn in the economy. "It might be on the new car, the new house or the new fridge," Hargrove said. "But the average player spends us$ 3 to us$ 5 a week on lottery tickets."
During the 2006-07 fiscal year, the Tennessee Education Lottery increased its overall sales and contribution to education. With sales of more than us$ 284.2 million reported in the recent budget year, lottery officials say us$ 1.2 billion has been raised for education in the state since the lottery began in 2004.
During the past fiscal year, lottery collections were used to help 67,000 students attend higher education institutions in Tennessee. Lottery money also helped fund 290 pre-kindergarten classes and provided grants for 126 after-school programs, officials said.
Herby Magee owns two businesses in Lawrenceburg that sell lottery tickets. He said he hasn’t noticed a lot of difference in the number of lottery tickets being bought. "Overall, I’d say we’re not selling as many tickets as we were when this all started (in 2004)," Magee said. "I guess the new has worn off." He said ticket sales jump significantly when the jackpot exceeds us$ 100 million.
Jackson said he sees a lot of the same people when he goes to buy lottery tickets. "And most of them are from Alabama," he said with a laugh. His perception appears to be accurate. Of the top 20 lottery ticket retailers in Tennessee, 11 are along the Alabama-Tennessee state line. Three of the top 20 retailers and five of the top 50 overall are in either Wayne or Lawrence counties, just across the state line from Lauderdale County.
He said it doesn’t matter what the jackpot is or what the economy is doing, he’s still going to play the lottery. "It’s fun," he said. "Who knows, I might hit it big one day. To be honest, I figure my chances of hitting it big are as good when the economy is down as they are when things are OK."