Hobby Center for Public Policy Study Finds Fewer Playing Texas Lottery Games

Tough times have curbed our appetite for games of chance.  A new study on the demographics of Texas Lottery players finds we are playing less and spending less when we do play.  

"Generally speaking, participation in all Texas Lottery games is down from last year, and in some cases down a lot, though there's been a steady decline in play since 1995," said Jim Granato, director of the University of Houston Hobby Center for Public Policy (HCPP), which performed the survey.  "Those decreases were seen in all regions in the state."

By law, the Texas Lottery must conduct a demographic study of those who participate in its games. 

According to the survey, the Texas Lottery is projected to have revenue of $2.84 billion for 2010 (margin of error is 2.4 %), below the games' 2009 performance.  Actual ticket sales in 2009 amounted to $3.72 billion. 

Researchers surveyed 1,691 Texans, 18 years of age and older, in August of 2010.  Nearly one third indicated they had participated in Texas Lottery games, a decrease of 8 percent from 2009.  Players in 2010 spent fewer dollars on the games on average each month, from $45.21 a month in 2009 to $38.92 in 2010.  The biggest loser was the Mega Millions game with a nearly 13 percent decrease in participation, the largest decline of all the Lottery games.  Of those who played the game, more than 48 percent said they purchased tickets just a few times a year.  Similarly, Cash 5 participation dropped dramatically.  Play for those who purchased weekly tickets in 2009 was down 16 percent.             

The declines were felt across the state.  The El Paso region saw participation rates drop more than 31 percent, the largest regional decline.  Participation in the Abilene region fell more than 10 percent.  San Antonio and Houston saw declines of 9 and 8 percent, respectively.  

The big winners remain Lotto Texas and Scratch Off tickets.  In 2010, 67 percent of lottery participants were playing Lotto Texas.  Players spent on average $4.17 per play.  Similarly, 54 percent of players were purchasing Scratch Off tickets, spending about $7.44 per play. 

"Those two games were by far the most popular in 2010, as in years past," Granato said. 

Also of interest, most respondents owned their own home, had college degrees and worked full time in some professional capacity.  About 36 percent of players earned less than $40,000 a year.  Most players were married.  Most, as in past years, were women.

For more information about the UH Hobby Center for Public Policy, visit http://www.uh.edu/hcpp/index.htm