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These 22 States Love Playing the Lottery the Most

Alexandria Bova
·7 mins read

According to the American Gaming Association, 2019 was a record-breaking year for gambling, generating $43.6 billion in gaming revenue. This was the highest-ever annual total — and it looks like Americans are only upping the ante.

The U.S. Supreme Court started allowing legalized sports betting in most states in 2018, with half of Americans now living in states where sports gambling will be fair game. Online gambling is also on the rise. With the increased use of smartphones and high-speed internet, online gambling makes it far easier for people to bet from the safety of their own homes.

The acceptance of gambling within our culture is also steadily increasing. According to a 2018 poll by Gallup, 69% of Americans say gambling is morally acceptable — the highest level of acceptance in the 16 years of the survey. And with the average American spending $288.06 on lottery tickets per year, it’s clear that many people love to press their luck.

To figure out which states enjoy playing the lottery the most, GOBankingRates analyzed lottery ticket sales and prize data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This study also looked at data from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) 2018 National Capability survey, with respondents answering a variety of questions, including, “Over the past 12 months, approximately how often did you buy a lottery ticket?”

The states are ranked from least to most spent per capita annually on lottery tickets and include only the top 22 states. Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah do not have a lottery system and were excluded from this study. You may be surprised to learn that some of America’s smaller states are more willing to gamble the most money away.

Last updated: July 28, 2020

Tennessee

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $264.27

Tennessee residents spent more than $1.36 billion on lottery tickets in 2017 alone, with the total winnings at $948.33 million.

New Hampshire

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $265.50

Based on the FINRA survey, 15% of New Hampshire residents said they purchase a lottery ticket about once a month. This is four percentage points higher than the national average.

Missouri

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $268.69

Twenty-one is the most frequently drawn number in the Missouri Lottery at 349 times as of Jan. 24, 2020. Missourians also spent over $1.2 billion on lottery tickets in 2017.

Kentucky

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $269.91

Ten percent of Kentuckians have bought a lottery ticket within the past week. Their overall 2017 winnings totaled nearly $629 million.

Virginia

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $286.86

Lottery winnings in Virginia reached $1.4 billion in 2019. Luckily, all Virginia Lottery profits have been used for public education across the state.

North Carolina

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $287.25

Four percent of state residents buy a lottery ticket every day. North Carolinians spent $2.26 billion on lottery tickets in 2017, with winners taking home a total of $1.54 billion.

Illinois

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $287.42

The Illinois Lottery website boasts that the state lottery has contributed over $21 billion in revenue since 1985. Citizens of Illinois spent over $2.84 billion on lottery tickets in 2017 alone.

Ohio

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $312.06

Ohio is the first state to cross the $300-per-person mark. Total winnings in the state are over $1.9 billion, with Ohioans spending over $2.8 billion on lottery tickets in 2017.

Oregon

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $313.44

While over half of Oregon’s lottery funds go to public education, it also helps other state programs, with 25.5% going to economic development and job creation and 15% going to state parks and natural resources. What’s more, 1% of funds are allocated for problem gambling treatment.

Florida

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $353.77

Florida had the second-highest total in lottery ticket sales in the study at over $5.82 billion in 2017 alone. Surprisingly, 40% of Florida residents said they hadn’t bought a single lottery ticket in the last year, according to the FINRA survey.

Pennsylvania

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $367.88

Total traditional game sales were more than $4.5 billion as of June 2019, with over 66% of sales from scratch-offs.

Michigan

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $388.97

The Michigan Lottery provided $941.3 million for education in 2018, with $2.5 million going to schools every day.

South Carolina

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $393.90

South Carolina Lottery money goes straight to higher education programs, with nearly $4.25 billion going toward student scholarships. Lottery ticket sales totaled $1.52 billion in 2017 alone.

Connecticut

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $405.91

Residents of Connecticut spend $141.64 more per person on lottery tickets than Tennessee residents, with lottery ticket sales totaling almost $1.15 billion in 2017.

Maryland

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $413.81

Casino gaming revenue supports the Maryland Education Fund; however, lottery profits primarily support the Maryland General Fund. This is a source of funding for public education, public health and safety services, with some profits supporting horse racing in the state.

West Virginia

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $419.15

West Virginia’s lottery ticket sales are far lower than most other states on this list at $6.1 million. However, the annual amount spent per person still places it among the top seven.

New Jersey

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $434.98

With Atlantic City as a large attraction, it’s no wonder that New Jersey residents play the lottery more than most. Around 12% of New Jerseyans say they play the lottery once a week.

Georgia

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $515.17

Five percent of Georgia residents play the lottery every single day. The state generated more than $4.02 billion in ticket sales in 2017.

New York

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $538.24

New York sales and net wins totaled $10.29 billion in the 2018-19 fiscal year, with $3.47 billion going to school aid.

Delaware

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $616.74

For such a small state, Delaware residents spend an obscene amount per person on lottery tickets. However, 38% of citizens said they have never bought a lottery ticket, according to the FINRA survey.

Rhode Island

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $626.11

Rhode Island has the second-highest annual amount spent on lottery tickets per person on this list. However, it also has the second-lowest amount of lottery prizes awarded at just $157 million.

Massachusetts

  • Annual amount spent on lottery per person: $933.33

Massachusetts residents spend over $300 more on lottery tickets per person than Rhode Island, with 5% of citizens saying they play the lottery every day. Lottery ticket sales reached $5.09 billion in 2017 alone.

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: To determine which states loved playing the lottery the most, GOBankingRates looked at lottery ticket sales and prizes data from the United States Census Bureau. The study ranked the states from least to most spent per capita annually on lottery tickets. Per capita figures were calculated by dividing the total lottery ticket sales and total lottery prizes — per the Census Bureau — by the respective state’s population. For each state, the following question and data set from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s 2018 National Financial Capability survey was sourced for supplementary information: “Over the past 12 months, approximately how often did you buy a lottery ticket?” Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah do not have a lottery system and therefore were excluded from the study.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: These 22 States Love Playing the Lottery the Most