The lottery is a popular activity among Americans, but research has shown that its effects are disproportionately felt by low-income groups. In one study, researchers found that lottery players with low incomes spend an average of $597 per year more than lottery players with higher incomes. Moreover, lottery players with low incomes spend four times more than those with a college degree. Moreover, lottery participation is higher among people with low education levels and African-Americans. But lottery players’ views of the lottery payouts aren’t rosy. According to the NGISC final report, the lottery’s dependence on lower-income residents was the major reason for their higher rates of participation. This is also supported by the fact that lottery outlets are disproportionately located in poor neighborhoods.
Lotteries date back to biblical times. During the Middle Ages, towns in the Low Countries held public lotteries to raise funds for the poor and for town fortifications. Some records even suggest that lotteries were around as early as the sixteenth century. In the same town, a record dated 9 May 1445 mentions a lottery of 4,304 tickets. Today, that amount is approximately equivalent to US$170,000.
Despite these concerns, lottery retailers have continued to expand. The NASPL Web site lists nearly 186,000 retail outlets in the U.S.; ten states still do not have a lottery. However, there are many reasons for this: for one, lottery sales boost the economy, while too-low odds will lead to frequent jackpot winners. A good balance between jackpot size and ticket sales is necessary for lottery administrators. They must strike a balance between high ticket sales and a high likelihood of winning.