Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lottery Sales Hold Up amid Meltdown; A Rough Economy Isn't Keeping Georgia from a Chance at Riches

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lottery Sales Hold Up amid Meltdown; A Rough Economy Isn't Keeping Georgia from a Chance at Riches

Article excerpt

Byline: JAKE ARMSTRONG

ATLANTA - Investors are yanking their money out of financial markets. Families are holding their pocketbooks tightly.

But one thing consumers apparently haven't shied from, even in the thick of these tough economic times, is investing in luck via the state lottery.

"In Georgia, the lottery seems to have held up pretty well in this economic downturn, so far," said David Mustard, a University of Georgia economic professor who has studied Georgia and other states' lotteries. "That doesn't always happen."

Whether it's due to Georgians buying more tickets in hopes of a jackpot, growth increasing the crop of lottery players or bigger jackpots and new games, the exact cause is hard to pin down.

Theories about the effect of tough economic times on lottery ticket sales cut both ways, Mustard said.

One side posits the downturn may push some people to take more chances at riches by buying more lottery tickets. The other holds that lottery players feeling the economy's pinch may be more inclined to spend less simply because they have less to spend.

In the end, there may not be a noticeable change, according to Mustard.

"It's not exactly clear how that will wash out. Those effects tend to offset each other," he said.

Still, the state-run lottery, which has put more than $10 billion toward education in the state over the past 15 years, is coming off a banner year.

The lottery reached a record with more than $3.51 billion in sales in the fiscal year that ended June 30, just about the time the economy started entering crisis mode as credit markets dried up and banks failed. That's nearly $100 million more than the record sales recorded the year before, which was wracked with foreclosures, and the highest sales figure since the lottery began in 1993.

Lottery officials were unable to provide sales figures for the first few months of the current fiscal year. …

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