Players Spend More Than Ever on Va. Lottery

When it comes to the lottery, everyone has their own reasons for playing.

“If it wasn’t convenient I probably wouldn’t,” said Tim Hartnett, of Arlington. “I figure two bucks, hey, it could hit.”

“It’s a mystery and I Iove a little mystery, you know what I’m saying?” said Victor Tyson, of Alexandria. “’Cause I know one day I’m going to hit the big one.”

Even in this down economy, lotteries across our region are seeing an uptick in sales. The Virginia State Lottery said for fiscal year 2011 it grossed more than $1.4 billion -- its biggest year ever.

The number one selling store is on Columbia Pike in Arlington. It’s outselling its closest competitor by more than half a million dollars. There are dozens of winners this month alone, raking in $2,700.

Job or no job, people at the store are spending big.

“That’s probably because people are desperate,” Hartnett said. “They’re hoping like hell they’re going to hit so they can get out of the hole they’re in.”

The District is also seeing a recent gain in sales. D.C. Lottery Executive Director Buddy Roogow isn’t crediting the down economy.  In fact, he said people have spent less on lottery tickets in the past four years. Customers are now spending more because of new interactive games like horse racing, he said.

“There is an old myth out there that when the economy is down that people spend more on gaming,” he said. “It’s just not true. The bottom line is that they just don’t have as much disposable income.”

It’s important for people to remember that the lottery should be played for fun and not used as an investment strategy, Roogow said. The odds of winning a major jackpot like Powerball or Mega Millions are 175,000,000 to 1.

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