As gas pump prices and grocery store bills rise, customer service representative Rita Herron has been paying attention to where her money goes, and that means decreasing from 10 to two lottery tickets a week.
"I pay more for gas, and so I have less money left for tickets," Herron said. "Everything is going up."
Throughout the country, 20 lotteries, including California, have reported flat or declining sales, according to data from La Fleur's Magazine, a lottery trade publication, and state lottery officials. A decrease in lottery profits means California schools could receive $94 million less than originally anticipated for the coming school year, according to the California State Lottery Commission.
While the commission has no exact figures, press secretary Al Lundeen said the economy is one of several contributing factors to the decrease in lottery sales.
"Typically, lottery sales have to do with discretionary income, so common sense would say when there is less discretionary income, there will be decreased sales," he said.
Local store owner Gurcharan Dhillon said he does not think there is a link between higher gas prices and lottery sales because people who buy high volumes of gas at his ampm mini market rarely play the lottery.
"The people buying $100, $80, $60 (of gas), they hardly buy lotto tickets," he said. "Typically, people who buy lotto tickets are buying $15, $20 of gas."
However, Palms Sub Bourbon Liquors Mini-Mart employees have noticed a decline in lottery sales and have also cut back on their personal ticket purchases.
"We used to have people coming in and buying the expensive $3, $5 tickets, but now they are just buying $1 tickets here, $1 tickets there," employee Audel Ramirez said.
The state lottery commission's main focus to boost sales is on removing restrictions preventing higher jackpots, Lundeen said.
"Is it going to be a remedy for the poor economy? Naturally, we understand that it won't be the full answer, but other states have shown when there is a higher payout, more people play," he said.
When it comes to the education shortfall, each school gets paid directly from the lottery fund, which is administered by the State Controller's Office, Department of Education fiscal services administrator Peter Foggiato said.
"Our guidance is for schools to budget it as one-time money," he said.
There is no replacement if the lottery funds decrease, so each school will have to deal with it on an individual basis, Foggiato said.
"The state can't use lottery funds for a shortfall in the state's budget, so it does not work the opposite way," he said.
The Kern High School District will receive about $400,000 less this year than originally anticipated, said Paul Bealessio, director of budgets for the district.
"In a year where all sources of revenue are going down, it is hard to lose this too," he said. "Just more bad news."
Bealessio expects to lose about $200,000 from the district's general fund and another $200,000 of restricted funds that go toward instructional material. The district will make up the money through a combination of cutbacks and using restricted funds carried over from other years.
Other gambling options are also feeling the impact of the economy. The Sports Pavilion at Kern County Fairgrounds has seen a slight decrease in satellite betting from last year.
"Almost every business is having a little slide-off," satellite supervisor Dian Tootle said. "It's not drastic, but we've had a decrease."
The Pavilion is doing better than other satellite betting tracks in the state, Tootle said, and had more than doubled its previous attendance for the Belmont.
"Some of our customers are not coming in, but our regulars haven't been complaining much about the economy," Tootle said.
In four months, Donna Plunkett and Alvin DeShields have visited the racetrack twice, which is less than usual.
"We have to save for other things," DeShields said.
But some people are still willing to take a gamble in the hopes of winning big. Cory Brown still buys $5 to $20 worth of tickets a day.
"Because of the crisis, you hope to hit it big," Brown said. "It's funny. It's ironic. You spend more money just to spend more money... You figure you will make more money real quick, like, so you are buying lottery tickets."