Who Plays Lottery more: Rich or poor people?
Lottery, in general, is a very tempting business. Who doesn’t like a chance to win thousands, even millions of dollars, just by investing a small portion of their paycheck? The idea is attractive to those who are proud to say they are financially stable, and to those who aren’t.
So, the question now is, who plays the lottery more often? Those who already have enough or those who struggle to make ends meet. Well, just out of curiosity, let`s dig deeper and see!
What does the research say?
Well, it comes as no surprise that the lower class is the leading participant of lottery games in the US. The focused study included 4000 participants across the state and it was conducted in 2010 by Grace M. Barnes, John W. Welte, Marie-Cecile O. Tidwell, and Joseph H. Hoffman, and published in the Journal of Gambling Studies in 2011. The study was specifically focused on lottery gambling and included games like scratch cards, daily numbers, and lotto games.
The results were kind of expected. Participants with the lowest socioeconomic status have the highest rate of playing the lottery. They also spend more days gambling, while the people with higher status spend, on average, only 10 days gambling.
It seems that people who can`t afford to gamble, actually spend most of their time and money gambling. So, no matter how little money they`ve got, they are willing to spend it on lottery tickets. The idea behind this is that they see lottery games as a small investment that could change their lives for the better. It should be a quick escape from their current living conditions.
Another study shows very worrying results. It was conducted by Duke University and it shows that one-third of the poorest households actually contribute to half of all lottery ticket sales. Another worrying statistic reported by North Carolina Policy Watch said that 18 out of 20 countries with higher poverty rates, contributes $200 per adult spent on tickets.
Lottery ticket sales reach its peak in 2014 with 70,5 billion. Other entertainment sectors only gathered a fraction of this. On average, that is $300 spent on tickets for every adult in 43 US states. And again, the most money came from the poorer households.
Harvard came with an interesting find too. They say that the rich tend to play the lottery most often when the jackpot prizes are the highest, while the poor ones play whenever they can, no matter the prize. This is a very sad fact showing that the poor are really desperate to grab any prize whatsoever. For that reason, daily games gained a huge popularity such as scratch cards. They only offer a fraction of the bigger games jackpot, but for them, even that is enough.
And since a small portion of state lottery profits goes to government services, they are also taking advantage of the situation. They advertize the state lottery towards their poorer citizens, making them contribute to society.
Why the poor choose to play the lottery more
There are many reasons why poor people choose to play the lottery more often. One study made in Germany in 2012 says that poor people feel the social deprivation compared to their wealthier counterparts, and the lottery is the only way they can earn quick money without spending a lot.
Studies have shown that people who find their every day routine hopeless and pointless spend more money on tickets. Usually when people are depressed and can`t find a way to get out of poverty they tend to develop addictive behaviors, such as gambling. There is also peer pressure. If they are surrounded by people who gamble, they too will spend more money gambling, as simple as that.
Poor people see the lottery as their ticket to improve their financial status and finally be able to experience a better life. So, it comes as no surprise when poorer people buy twice as much lottery tickets than wealthier people. This is showed in another study that was published in the Journal Behavioral Decision Making.
To some point, the reasons why poor people gamble are justifiable. They are doing their best to improve their current living situation. Feeling helpless on a daily basis is not good for their mental health so they spend the little money they have to finally be able to breathe and stop worrying so much. What we found to be of little help is the role of the government. They are actively advertising and they are relying on the poor people for state lottery revenues. And it is shocking when we see the real numbers and find out how much the poor people are contributing to the overall sales of the industry.
As we said before, our peers have an effect on us. So, it only needs one person to start gambling, and in no time the whole community gambles, so we end up with a network of lottery players who support each other and encourage each other to play even more.
All in all, we can conclude that desperation is one of the driving points for playing the lottery. But probably the thrill, no matter how short-lived it is, is worth the trouble for them.