The evidence is far from conclusive, but some people in the business think high gasoline prices have cut into lottery sales in New Hampshire.
Rick Wisler, executive director of the state Lottery Commission, is among them, at least with respect to instant tickets. He reasons that with prices so high, many drivers are using credit or debit cards to pay for gasoline. That means they don't have cash in hand, which depresses impulse purchases such as instant lottery tickets.
"We believe, although there is no conclusive proof, that increasing gas prices over these past few months is having a downward effect on instant games," Wisler said.
Two weeks ago, lottery ticket sales dropped $100,000 from the previous week even though there was a big Powerball jackpot, Wisler said. The drop came as Hurricane Katrina devastated oil production and refining operations in the Gulf states.
On the other hand, Powerball sales this week were "just about where they should be" given the jackpot size, Wisler said Tuesday.
And David McLaughlin, who handles operations for the nine-store Kwik-Stop chain, said lottery sales have been strong in his stores.
"We find that in tough times, anything that's a vice increases -- beer, cigarettes, lottery go up," McLaughlin said.
Paul Haddock manages Mr. Mike's convenience store in Manchester. If anything, he believes instant lottery ticket sales are up this month.
"Once they're hooked in, they're hooked in no matter what," Haddock said.
The lottery expects to sell $75 million in tickets this budget year, which ends June 30. That would be an increase of 8 percent over the previous year.
Wisler said two changes are expected to boost sales. Changes to Powerball should create more rollovers with big jackpots. And New Hampshire will introduce a $20 scratch ticket in early November, just in time for the holidays.