I guess times are tough enough that we've quit dreaming of striking it rich -- even the last hope of the common man, the state lottery, is suffering a shortfall in ticket sales. With the increasing tax on cigarette, the only one of the convenience store's holy trinity (cigarettes, beer and lottery tickets) that is still thriving is beer.
According to USA Today, Indiana has seen a 10% decline, Florida 7%, and California 5%. Ironically, a California Lottery spokesperson placed the blame on mass transit. She posited that as fewer people bought gas, they missed the opportunity to buy lottery tickets at the gas station register. (I wonder if they've considered selling tickets on the trains and buses.) Other spokespersons blamed small jackpots and the closing of stores that sold the tickets.
This is particularly bad news for states that devote the lottery profits to school. Those that are funded by property taxes are already seeing shortfalls as houses are abandoned or decline in value, while those schools supported by sales or income tax have suffered with the drop in employment and the new frugality.
Perhaps states should consider the marketing strategy of the Ohio Lottery Director. He was pulled over for speeding recently, and when the State Patrolman was kind enough to let him go with a warning, he showed his appreciation by mailing him 100 free tickets. The Columbus Dispatch reports that lottery officials have given away 350,000 tickets in the last two years. They must be a very lead-footed group.
I wonder if others could employ this strategy. If a driver could get out of a $100 ticket by giving away $50 worth of lottery tickets, I'll bet sales would boom again.
Lottery sales drop as people give up on the dream