US lottery operators worry as fewer millennials line up to play

Feb 10, 2017, 11:36 am (126 comments)

Insider Buzz

Young Americans are showing less interest in buying lotto tickets than their parents, prompting lottery officials to worry about the odds for future growth.

While overall ticket sales rose 9 percent last year versus 2015, the number of millennials — adults in their late teens to early 30s — who play is falling.

That is creating consternation among leaders of the industry, which generates $80 billion in annual revenue, more than the combined U.S. sales of movie tickets, music and concerts.

"I feel like everything's just too expensive nowadays to just kind of throw away your money on luck," Melissa Mancilla, a 21-year-old hotel worker, said outside a downtown Los Angeles convenience store.

Andrew Hunter, a 26-year-old who works in software, said he does not buy lottery tickets, but his grandmother does.

"If I was going to bet money for entertainment it would probably be on sports betting versus lottery, just because it's more interactive," he said after leaving the same store.

Only a third of Americans aged 18 to 29 said they played the lottery in the past year, compared with 61 percent for those aged 50 to 64, according to a 2016 Gallup survey.

The rate for millennials fell from 39 percent in surveys conducted in 2003 and 2007, Gallup said. For all other age groups, the likelihood of playing went up over the past decade.

"Most millennials don't want to wait two days to see if they won the Powerball. They consume entertainment content just much faster than consumers did 20 years ago," said Charles McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery.

"We're not broke, we're just at the inflection point where a failure to change will have a steep decline over time."

'Next generation players'

Lottery officials say they are limited by laws in many states that were aimed at preventing compulsive gambling and ban the sale of lotto tickets online or via payment with credit cards.

The Virginia Lottery has tried to make things easier for players in an increasingly cashless society by allowing debit card purchases, said its executive director, Paula Otto. Other states are making similar changes, she said.

"The next generation of lottery players grew up with technology and approach making purchases and playing games differently," Otto said in an email.

Lotteries provide more than $20 billion a year to states for programs including education and military veterans.

All but six U.S. states have a lottery, and they use the proceeds in different ways, such as supplemental funding or poured directly into a state's general fund.

In California, the most populous U.S. state, most lottery proceeds are used for one-time expenses by public schools, such the purchase of library materials. A decrease in lottery sales would mean less money for those supplemental materials but would not result in program cutbacks, said California Lottery spokesman Russ Lopez.

Despite record jackpots, millennials used to the almost-instant gratification of online games and social media are put off by having to wait for the drawing of a winning ticket. Experts say they are also more risk-averse than their elders.

"This is a generation that came of age in the recession," said MaryLeigh Bliss, 33-year-old chief content officer for Ypulse, a marketing and research firm focused on millennials.

Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois, New York state and Virginia allow online sales on lottery games to at least some degree.

In 2011, the U.S. Justice Department said proposals in Illinois and New York to allow online lotto sales did not violate federal law. The industry is now looking to see if President Donald Trump's new U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who opposed the move, could reconsider that decision.

Another strategy that lottery officials are exploring to appeal to millennials is designing prizes that also include a social component, such as VIP access to a concert.

"They want an experience, not just a prize," said Rose Hudson, president of the North American Association of State & Provincial Lotteries.

Reuters

Comments

Raven62's avatarRaven62

A sign that the Cost of Living (Taxes) is too High!

Groppo's avatarGroppo

Quote: Originally posted by Raven62 on Feb 10, 2017

A sign that the Cost of Living (Taxes) is too High!

.

Yeah it is.  But also, it's the over-population that we see, have seen and have yet to see, which has caused the
"lotto-powers-that-be" to increase the already impossible odds on the 2 main games we play.

With the ever increasing India-scaled over-population our planet sees, comes that much more greed.

I've urged people, and still do,  to start wearing protection.  But they refuse, laugh, and continue to have kids like rats.  We'll see. This is also why I turn down any pan handlers on the streets that should come up to me, bumming change.
Food shortages in the USA could be a very real threat.

So, playing lotto these days would turn me off too, if I was in that earlier age group that the article mentions, and if I've blown the money I have.

Teddi's avatarTeddi

Quote: Originally posted by Raven62 on Feb 10, 2017

A sign that the Cost of Living (Taxes) is too High!

Or simply that they understand the odds better than their parents do and they're not relying on gambling to attain wealth. In either case it's not about taxes. Especially since on these current taxes, their parents are purchasing an increased number of tickets.

Todd's avatarTodd

One of the main challenges I see for the lotteries in attracting millennials is their unbearable snarkiness and blind following of their social media heroes.  They are so afraid of independent thought and analysis that once their social network derides an idea like the lottery (they don't debate, they deride), it is nearly impossible to get a millennial to step out on their own and make an independent decision.  So afraid to be different, yet claiming to be just that.

Of course I'm stating generalities here, but generalities are what marketers look at.

Redd55

I agree with all the comments but I also believe the lotteries are deflecting blame for their own poor management.

bobby623's avatarbobby623

IMHO

If they can't play online using their smart phones, they aren't interested!!
Maybe the politicians will wake up and realize that many potential lottery gamblers can't drive anymore, or have stopped going to the store for a host of reasons.
Cost and taxes don't have anything to do with it.
I'm hoping that Texas politicians now in session are smart enough to see that adopting online play is their only option.
Be a shame if we have to wait another two years.

CARBOB's avatarCARBOB

Quote: Originally posted by Todd on Feb 10, 2017

One of the main challenges I see for the lotteries in attracting millennials is their unbearable snarkiness and blind following of their social media heroes.  They are so afraid of independent thought and analysis that once their social network derides an idea like the lottery (they don't debate, they deride), it is nearly impossible to get a millennial to step out on their own and make an independent decision.  So afraid to be different, yet claiming to be just that.

Of course I'm stating generalities here, but generalities are what marketers look at.

You make a very valid point. I am 75, I graduated high school at 17, in 1959. Raised by a sharecropper, stepped out into the world with confidence. There are people 40 and below, who don't know what the words obligations and responsibilities mean. They can't think for themselves, still depending on mom and dad to take care of them. How do they expect to exist, when mom and dad die? I believe the majority of them are Liberals.

Gambler4Life's avatarGambler4Life

I would never blame State Lotteries, which have contributed to numerous FABULOUS times in my life! I have won more times in DC and Maryland than I can even recall. On MLK  day in 2005, I hit 4444 for $15,000 and $5,000 on 2222!  A typical win for me is $1,200 two to three times a month.

I have since left the DC/Maryland area and continue to play state lotteries wherever I travel.

I arrived in Texas in August 2012, and by year end I had won $14,600! I won $3,600 in Tennessee, $1,500 in Missouri, $1,250 in Rhode Island. Yes, Rhode Island! $1,200 in West Virginia, $1,200 in Virginia. I could go on and on, but I gotta go play my numbers!

Rodney Lundy

They internet lotteries have to offer both options store and the Internet!

Artist77's avatarArtist77

Quote: Originally posted by Todd on Feb 10, 2017

One of the main challenges I see for the lotteries in attracting millennials is their unbearable snarkiness and blind following of their social media heroes.  They are so afraid of independent thought and analysis that once their social network derides an idea like the lottery (they don't debate, they deride), it is nearly impossible to get a millennial to step out on their own and make an independent decision.  So afraid to be different, yet claiming to be just that.

Of course I'm stating generalities here, but generalities are what marketers look at.

So true.

Toronto

It's because they're lazy, good for nothing, entitled!!

Toronto

Quote: Originally posted by Todd on Feb 10, 2017

One of the main challenges I see for the lotteries in attracting millennials is their unbearable snarkiness and blind following of their social media heroes.  They are so afraid of independent thought and analysis that once their social network derides an idea like the lottery (they don't debate, they deride), it is nearly impossible to get a millennial to step out on their own and make an independent decision.  So afraid to be different, yet claiming to be just that.

Of course I'm stating generalities here, but generalities are what marketers look at.

What celebrities have campaigned against playing the lottery? If I recall, when the jackpot hit a billion or 600 million a few years back, people like Ellen were giving tickets away. An NBA player bought 10's of thousands. People viewed it positively! Everyone young and old was playing

HaveABall's avatarHaveABall

Quote: Originally posted by CARBOB on Feb 10, 2017

You make a very valid point. I am 75, I graduated high school at 17, in 1959. Raised by a sharecropper, stepped out into the world with confidence. There are people 40 and below, who don't know what the words obligations and responsibilities mean. They can't think for themselves, still depending on mom and dad to take care of them. How do they expect to exist, when mom and dad die? I believe the majority of them are Liberals.

I see your points, I think, CARBOB.  Many people born after 1976 are living at home.  Their parents/guardians  are going to the grocery store and gas station to get the weekly replenishments.  I presume that the majority of lottery ticket sales are made to these older generous multi-taskers.

I also think that many adults under 35 are questioning their older, regular weekly lottery ticket buying acquaintances.  This questioning leads the younger to understand that their acquantances' past 25-30 year results have been a leading loss of approximately $450/year.  They therefore decide not to develop their older acquaintances chronically depressing habit of long-term losses.

Lurking Coffee

Toronto

My guess is a realization of how long the odds are and therefore play accordingly, an understanding that they are still young and control their destiny in life whereas a lot of older people see at as the only way they will get rich in their remaining years.

Subscribe to this news story