Lottery most popular form of gambling

Mar 2, 2004 4:28 AM

Despite the rapid and widespread expansion of casino gaming, state lottery tickets remain the most popular form of gambling nationwide, according to a Gallup Poll conducted in December.

According to the poll, half of all Americans (49 percent) say they have bought a lottery ticket in the past year, and those who play the lottery say they spend about $19 a month on tickets.

Men are more likely to buy lottery tickets than women (56 percent versus 43 percent), but women tend to spend more money when they do purchase tickets ($23 versus $15 per month).

Conversely, about 26 percent of adults visited a commercial casino last year, according to Harrah’s annual study of casino gaming.

Or course, casino gamblers traditionally spend more money on a per capita basis. According to visitor profiles, Las Vegas visitors spend about $500 per trip in the casino. Overall, casino gamblers across the USA made about 5.8 visits to a casino last year.

Results from the Gallup Poll also suggest that lottery players don’t view purchasing tickets as "gambling."

For instance, in the survey people were asked whether they had bought lottery tickets. Then they were asked in they had ever participated in any form of legal gambling. Oddly, only 46 percent said they had gambled, while 49 percent said they had bought lottery tickets.

More telling is the number of lottery ticket buyers who deny every having gambled legally: 45 percent said they have not while 54 percent said they have.

Gallup Poll results also seem to reinforce the theory that lottery tickets are regressive in that the people who can least afford to buy them spend the most money.

Specifically, just under half, 45 percent, of low income respondents said they play the lottery, slightly lower than other income groups. But low-income people who buy tickets spend an average of $46 a month, more than twice the average of other participants.

It’s a different demographic for casino gamblers. Americans in upper income brackets have the highest casino gambling rates. More than a third of individuals with annual household incomes in excess of $95,000 gambled in a casino last year, while only about two in 10 individuals with annual income less than $35,000 gambled in a casino.