Economy down, lottery sales up

A convenience store on Country Club Drive in Fayetteville is one of the top selling lottery ticket stores in the state.

Lottery sales this year are already $100 million ahead of last year.

Lottery player Jerry McNeill says it's only a game, but one he's spent hundreds of dollars playing this year.

State lottery officials expect to pull in over a billion dollars in overall lottery sales this year.

New games with instant winners and higher payouts are a big part of that increase as the economy continues to go down.

Many like Annie Oliver say they are playing more.

"A little bit more, just trying to get rich, that's the only way you can do it," Oliver said.

And some play out of desperation.

"It's important; I can really use the money," player Scott McDougal said.

Uncertainty over Wall Street and a recession are driving more and more people to take chances to strike it rich. Most often, FSU Economics Professor Dr. David Wolfe says those who can least afford spend more.

"The lottery provides hope for $1 you can win," Wolfe said. "They are buying a dream; problem is the odds are so stacked against them. You can win a free ticket or you can win $5, but you've spent $20 to make that $5 so you are losing."

But in a souring economy, the promise of big money is still a dream that people keep chasing one ticket at a time.

"I'm hoping to win too," McNeill said. "I want to win right now if I could."

State lottery officials say they don't specific numbers that show how much the economy is affecting sales.

According to some national publications, lotteries across the nation are growing in popularity and pay-outs.

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