Illinoisans apparently haven't lost an appetite for lottery tickets, even though some say they are pinching pennies elsewhere in their personal budgets.
Sales figures for the Illinois Lottery were up nearly 3 percent — to about $2.08 billion in the fiscal year that ended in June.
In the year before, the lottery hit $2 billion in sales for the first time. Both increases come with a steady increase in the popularity of the lottery's instant games.
Illinois Lottery Superintendent Jodie Winnett said Friday that the state is planning to start a study on trends of lottery play during tough economic times. She said she now has only theories about why sales remain up.
One theory, Winnett said, is that people might need some financial hope in lottery tickets, and the chance to win a lot of money doesn't cost very much. The odds of winning, though, often can be exceptionally long.
"It's just a dollar," Winnett said.
Also Friday came news of a study showing that people who view themselves as low-income are more likely to buy lottery tickets.
Published in the July issue of the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, the study suggests people who feel they're poor are more likely to take risks.
Emily Haines, an author of the study, said that behavior could explain why lottery sales stay steady, or even rise, when the economy falls.
"Maybe it's because they're trying to make up for what they've lost," said Haines, a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University.
Winnett says the state lottery uses focus groups to help drive interest in instant games, a process that could explain the jump in sales on the scratch-off tickets from about $780 million in the 2004 fiscal year, to $1.1 billion last year.
A full list of Illinois Lottery games can be found at www.lotterypost.com/il.