Personally, I have nothing against the lottery. In fact, I joined co-workers back in the 1990s in one of those infamous "everybody throw a few dollars in and we’ll all retire early when we hit it big" plans, only to never, ever get close in several years of playing. We really only earned enough once in a while to buy more tickets. But then I guess that’s why they call it a game of chance.
The number of lottery games have seemingly multiplied at a rapid pace since then. But with the Great Recession of the last few years, and certainly a few other factors, far fewer lottery players have been taking their chances.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, lottery revenues declined in 25 states in fiscal year 2009. In addition, they were flat in 10 states and increased in only seven. Indiana had the dubious distinction of the biggest drop, with revenues going down 18.1%. Puerto Rico, Oregon and Arizona were the only others with double digit drops.
North Carolina, with a relatively new lottery, saw revenues increase 17.4%. Others on the positive side of the ledger: North Dakota, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana and Minnesota.
Finally, the seven states that have not authorized lotteries: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
At one point, many in Indiana questioned whether the lottery was a good idea. That was before horse racing, riverboats, racinos and the like. The tax dollars generated by the gaming industry have become an essential part of the state budget. That’s the safest bet one can make.