Despite Tough Economy, Lottery Seen As Ticket To Riches


“It’s just a buck,” Todd Babel said as he left a convenience store holding a Powerball ticket giving him a chance, however small, at $20 million.

“I do it just for fun,” Babel said. “I don’t buy 10 at a time or anything like that.”

The tough economy hasn’t kept other Arizonans from playing either.

As Arizona’s economy has slid over the past year, lottery revenues have remained relatively steady.

The Arizona Lottery took in a record $473 million during the fiscal year that ended in June. Sales were up 2.3 percent in fiscal 2008 after declining slightly in fiscal 2007.

Fred Solop, a professor and chair of Northern Arizona University’s political science department, said he wasn’t surprised that lottery sales are holding up. He said that during economic downturns people often will look to the lottery hoping for a little luck and a little extra money.

“It really represents, I think, at some level, people’s hope for better times ahead,” Solop said.

Timothy James, an economics professor at Arizona State University, said lottery tickets can be more attractive to some people in a bad economy than in a good economy.

“So maybe there’s a bunch of people out there who are buying lottery tickets in the desperate hope that they might win some money that would get them out of their financial malaise,” James said.

Art Macias said new products, better marketing and more generous prizes, not the economy, are behind the lottery’s continued strength.

“The easy thing to do is to declare that lottery products are somehow recession-proof, but they are not,” Macias said.

Macias said the lottery has shown very little correlation with the economy, positive or negative, over the years.

“Especially in this economy, we’re talking about good entertainment value for a dollar or two and you have a bit of entertainment and a chance at winning good prizes,” Macias said.


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