Though the odds of winning the jackpot are astronomically low, Americans still spend billions of dollars on the lottery each year in the hopes of striking it rich. Across the 44 states that have some kind of lottery available, Americans bought $81.6 billion worth of lottery tickets in 2019. These states doled out $52.7 billion in winnings, with the difference covering the costs of administering the lottery and going to pay for schools and other state programs.
On average, an American adult spent about $320 on lottery tickets in 2019. This figure varies widely across the country though. In five states, the typical adult spent less than $100 per year on lottery tickets, while in five other states, lottery spending per adult exceeds $500. Lottery spending per person nearly hits $1,000 in one state.
To determine how much the average person spends on the lottery, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 Annual Survey of State Government Finances Tables.
The states whose residents spend the most on the lottery per person tend to be wealthy. Seven of the eight states with the highest lottery spending per adult resident have a median annual household income of more than $70,000. The U.S. median household income is $65,712. Conversely, the seven states with the lowest lottery spending per adult have lower median household incomes than the country as a whole. These are America’s richest and poorest states.
Though very few lottery players actually win significant money, and many complain that lotteries do far more harm than good, the proceeds of the game are intended to benefit the residents of the states where it is played. Each state divides the profits from the lottery differently, using them to fund schools, parks, veterans programs and more. This money can be important as many states face significant funding challenges.
Massachusetts tops the list with lottery spending per adult of $991.28. Total lottery ticket sales across the state stand at $5.5 billion a year. The prize money awarded in 2019 reached $4.0 billion, which is $719.63 per adult. Massachusetts is among the richest states, based on median household income of $85,843, the second highest in the country.
Click here to see how much the average person spends on the lottery in each state.
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