Know When to Walk Away

Political Consultant specializing in issues management and strategic research

As Governor Schwarzenegger’s analysis notes, California ranks "dead last" in terms of per capita lottery sales.  Several east coast states, including Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania do far better.  Interestingly, the independent Legislative Analyst’s analysis reports that the average revenue of lotteries in states west of the Mississippi are significantly lower than those east of the Mississippi.

While a thorough analysis of the states’ games, demographics, and marketing could help explain this difference, a simple explanation occurred to me:  lotteries have just been around longer in many eastern states.

Maybe playing the lottery, like many other behaviors, is passed on from parents to their children, and there just aren’t as many age groups, and therefore as many people, playing the lottery in California – too many of today’s lottery players don’t have children old enough to play, never mind grandchildren.

I looked at brief histories of the states that the LAO highlighted…indeed, Massachusetts, with one of the most successful lotteries in the country (successful for the lottery itself, not its players) began in 1971, as did Pennsylvania’s very profitable one.  New York’s began in 1966.

Then the lottery spread west – to Arizona in 1981, California and Oregon in 1984, Colorado in 1989 and Texas in 1992.

If this longevity/heredity theory has any truth to it, and the age of the lottery is in fact a contributing factor, this is important because it means that promoting the lottery or changing its games won’t increase revenue to the degree that the Governor hopes.  Time and good breeding will do that.  Teach your children well…And feed them on their dreams….

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