The sour economy is striking the one source of government financing that had been widely regarded as recession-proof: lotteries.
Education programs are a common beneficiary of lottery sales, which fell 2% in the third quarter from a year ago.
Across the U.S., many state lotteries are reporting hefty declines, with ticket sales down nearly 10% in California and more than 4% in Texas over the past few months. In good years, these lotteries have turned over more than $1 billion apiece to education programs, the most common lottery beneficiaries.
Lottery officials have long praised their games as low-cost entertainment that grow even more appealing to players when the economy turns down. But lottery sales nationwide fell about $215 million, or nearly 2%, from July through September compared with the same stretch in 2007, according to La Fleur’s magazine, which tracks the lottery business.
The decline in lottery sales “is an unusual phenomenon,” said John W. Kindt, a gambling critic and business professor at the University of Illinois. A big proportion of lottery tickets are bought by people with gambling problems who are likely to play more in bad economic times, he said, even as intermittent players cut back.
I guess the recession really is that bad. No wonder why Sheldon Adelson lost most of the value of his fortune of illiquid stock (since he owned a large chunk of it) of the Las Vegas Sands from its former mark to market value.