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Mass. Lottery bets it can draw richer players

Massachusetts LotteryMassachusetts Lottery: Mass. Lottery bets it can draw richer players

It's not your average Joe Lunchbucket's state lottery anymore.

The Massachusetts State Lottery is spending millions on an upscale advertising campaign aimed at reeling in upper-income folks with dreams of having even more money.

Emblematic of this new, and some might say curious approach, is the Lottery's sponsorship deal with public radio station WBUR, a National Public Radio affiliate.

You won't hear the latest scratch tickets hawked. But the Lottery gets a very powerful, soft sell plug, with a line about supporting cities and towns with local aid.

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Lottery's aggressive efforts to reach out to the well-heeled. The Lottery spent $225,000 last year to underwrite the exclusive Deutsche Bank golf tournament.

And Lottery officials are also spending heavily on partnerships with three of the city's four major sports teams, as well as with Boston College's athletic programs. There's a $400,000 deal with the Patriots [team stats], a $200,000 pact with the Celtics [team stats] that includes a new Lottery ticket, and a similar deal with the Sox.

Granted, the Lottery is hitting a wider mass of people at those sporting events than those who might attend a golf tournament. Still, the Lottery is clearly targeting people with disposable income, say enough to spend $100 on a seat at a Pats game.

But William Thompson, a gaming industry expert and professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, is not impressed.

"They get the warm and fuzzies for supporting public radio, but the (Lottery) players don't support public radio," Thompson said. "The players could care less."

The moves come as the Massachusetts State Lottery hits a revenue wall, posting just incremental growth last year.

Lottery officials say targeting the well-off makes sense to keep that revenue pie growing.

So, has the Lottery found a way of jump-starting its growth engine?

Not so fast, says professor Thompson.

While the wealthy buy lottery tickets, the amount they spend is a smaller proportion of their overall income.

Upper-income professionals are also more likely to see Lottery gambling as a bad bet and have a better conception of the odds stacked against winning, experts say.

And they are more likely than not to look down their collective noses at the idea of trudging out to the local 7-Eleven to grab a few scratch tickets. "It's way off economic good sense," Thompson said.

A spokesman for the Lottery stressed that it's selling tickets to people of all incomes and was not abandoning its blue-collar base of players.

Still, there may be some method to the seeming madness of trying to pitch the dream of getting rich to those who already have it made.

Some lotteries are now turning to more expensive tickets to keep growth rolling.

A number of state lotteries now sell $20 tickets and Texas and Connecticut have both introduced $30 scratch tickets.

A spokewoman for the state Treasurer Tim Cahill, who oversees the Lottery, said there are no plans for such pricey games. But the Rev. Richard McGowan, a Boston College professor and gaming industry expert, is not so sure.

If the Lottery is going after the upper end of the market, then why not $20 tickets? In fact, the odds in such games tend to be better.

It pays to be rich.

Boston Herald

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11 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by goldrush.
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United States
Member #3676
February 10, 2004
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Posted: December 20, 2006, 6:50 pm - IP Logged

It is a waste, people that make great incomes are not dumb enough to play games that have horrendous odds and payback percentages. They invest in stocks, real estate, etc. Even casinos or the horse offer such a better return than the lottery.

    justxploring's avatar - villiarna
    Wandering Aimlessly
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    Posted: December 21, 2006, 8:25 pm - IP Logged

     "people that make great incomes are not dumb enough"

     

    Funny, I know lots of people who are very wealthy and enjoy playing the Lottery in Florida.  So are you saying the poor slobs like me ARE dumb???

      Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
      Zeta Reticuli Star System
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      Posted: December 22, 2006, 2:07 am - IP Logged

      For the average blue collar working slob, something like the lottery is the only hope out of a paycheck to paycheck existence. The idea is making a 'major score'. 

      For wealthy people, they probably indeed are attracted more to games like baccarat and high stakes poker, and sports betting. They've 'made the major score' already and are playing for fun, or because they're degenerate gamblers that happen to have deep enough pockets to sustain their habit. Big money for these people isn't the score it is for a working slob, to them big money is just a way of keeping score.

      Some of these people are known to bet $5,000 or more on a football game. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't bet $5,000 on lottery.

      There was a bookie in NYC who catered to the Wall Street crowd - the minimum bet he would accept was $50,000 a game, two game minimum.  

      The people that get these ideas at the Mass. lottery should know these things, evidently they don't.  

      Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

      Lep

      There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

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        California
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        Posted: December 22, 2006, 11:31 am - IP Logged

        The term that needs to be defined is the description of the customers the lottery is trying to attract, wealthy/upper income.  Now we all have an opinion on what constitutes a high income/wealthy person.  My guess is that the lottery is looking to increase play in those individuals with a household income of over $100,000.

        There are a large number of people in this income bracket that don't spend their time playing baccarat and high stakes poker.  They are just trying to make ends meet, like you and me.  The vast majority of these families have both parents working, wonder how are they going to afford their lifestyle and fret about how will they pay for their kids to go to college.  Winning the lottery would address many of these questions.  The lure of a big multi-million dollar jackpot is attractive to a wide audience.  They, like may others, are probably the type that buy a ticket, probably quick pick, when the jackpot hits a certain amount, say $150 million. Now if the lottery could get these people to buy tickets for jackpots at say $20 million or so, imagine the sales potential and how fast the jackpots would grow.

        Now is there another class of individauls, let's call them the "uber-rich", that can afford multi-million dollar homes, trips to exotic locations and the such.  They probably would not be drawn to playing the lottery, no matter the jackpot.  But then again what’s a buk or two to these people? 

          psykomo's avatar - animal shark.jpg

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          Member #4877
          May 30, 2004
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          Posted: December 22, 2006, 9:02 pm - IP Logged

           "people that make great incomes are not dumb enough"

           

          Funny, I know lots of people who are very wealthy and enjoy playing the Lottery in Florida.  So are you saying the poor slobs like me ARE dumb???


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            Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
            Zeta Reticuli Star System
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            Posted: December 23, 2006, 12:39 am - IP Logged


            CA LotteyrGuy 

             "They are just trying to make ends meet, like you and me. "

            The lotteries know they've already got us, and them, for customers. No need to create a new aggressive marketing program for those you've already got.   

            Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

            Lep

            There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

              justxploring's avatar - villiarna
              Wandering Aimlessly
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              Posted: December 23, 2006, 4:18 am - IP Logged

              I agree that "upper income" is all relative.  15 years ago I made much more than I make now and couldn't afford to live in Boston. 

              I'm not so sure a $20 ticket will attract a high income player..maybe just someone who doesn't mind taking a risk.  Gambling is often an attitude, not just a need or compulsion IMHO. 

                Avatar

                United States
                Member #1826
                July 11, 2003
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                Posted: December 23, 2006, 4:20 am - IP Logged

                A $20 ticket in Massachusetts would probably pay out as well as a slot machine .

                (insert signature here)

                  Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
                  Zeta Reticuli Star System
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                  Posted: December 23, 2006, 10:39 am - IP Logged

                  There's a saying, "Everyone bets the same amount".

                  It means not the same monetary amount, but whatever amount it takes to give them a thrill. What's mere chump change to one player is a serious bet to another. 

                   Justxploring:

                   "15 years ago I made much more than I make now and couldn't afford to live in Boston. "

                  So you moved to Florida? 

                  What?

                  Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

                  Lep

                  There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                    justxploring's avatar - villiarna
                    Wandering Aimlessly
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                    November 5, 2005
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                    Posted: December 24, 2006, 2:33 am - IP Logged

                    15 years ago I didn't live in Boston.  I lived in New Hampshire.

                     

                    (what r u, a wise guy or sumpin??)  Smash


                      Australia
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                      June 11, 2005
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                      Posted: December 27, 2006, 3:40 am - IP Logged

                      What I like the Massachusetts lottery is that they have a subscription service and you don't have to have a Massachusetts address to play. You can order by phone, pay by debit card and they send tickets by courier, so they don't upset the postal service. All state lotteries should follow their example.