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A Game of Chance for NC Poor?

March 30, 2012

RALEIGH, N. C. – Winning the record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot today (Friday) would be a dream come true for most people, but research shows that many of those who are funding that dream for a few lucky winners have the least to spend.

Lottery tickets and scratch-off games continue to be the most popular in those North Carolina counties with some of the state's highest poverty rates, according to Sarah Ovaska, investigative reporter for N.C. Policy Watch.

"In the areas of the state that are struggling the most economically, it's also where we have a lot of people buying lottery tickets, and hoping luck and chance get them out of their economic predicament."

Ovaska says North Carolina adults spent $212 per capita on the lottery in 2011 - and those in Halifax County spent almost double that, at $516 per capita.

In North Carolina, 30 percent of lottery profits go towards education. That's down from 35 percent when the lottery began in 2006. Although the lottery is legal in North Carolina, Ovaska points out that the extent of the lottery games available is still up for debate.

"There are a lot of options about how the state moves forward, and those are really up for citizens to decide whether we want to be having an expansive lottery that they have in other parts of the country."

One in every five Americans believes that winning the lottery is the most practical way to amass personal wealth, according to a 2006 study by the Consumer Federation of America and the Financial Planning Association.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC