Fewer take chance on lottery in recession

Christopher Mangano buys a lottery ticket from convenience store owner C.W. Lee. Friday at Food Mart, 1801 W. Second St. Mangano said the economic recession hasn’t caused him to cut back on playing the lottery. Lotto sales in Kansas were down 5 percent in 2008.

Do you feel lucky today?

Clarence Rayton feels lucky almost every day. The 49-year-old Lawrence man makes stopping in at Food Mart, 1801 W. Second St., a daily routine to buy a couple of Kansas Lottery Instant scratch-off tickets.

“If I win anything I just reinvest it into more tickets,” Rayton said.

One day last September proved especially lucky for Rayton. A scratch-off ticket earned him $10,000. He paid some bills and helped a relative pay for a funeral.

The nation’s economic recession hasn’t convinced him to stop “investing” in the Lottery.

“No, not really,” he said.

The recession, however, may be having an impact on the lottery. Kansas Lottery sales for all types of games and tickets for the week ending March 21 were down 4.3 percent from the same week in 2008. Powerball ticket purchases also dropped the same week — by almost 12 percent, statistics from the Kansas Lottery office showed.

In 2008, lottery sales in Kansas were down by 5 percent. Many other states also showed declines for that year. California and Indiana: down 10 percent. Iowa: down 6 percent. Florida: down 8 percent. Missouri’s sales were flat.

“When times are tough, people cut back on nonessential items such as entertainment, and, of course, the lottery is entertainment,” said Sally Lunsford, director of communications for the Kansas Lottery.

But there are other possible reasons as well. A lack of large jackpots can affect sales of Powerball, Lunsford said. Sales surge when the Powerball jackpot reaches or exceeds $100 million, she said.

“Some people play only when the jackpot gets huge,” Lunsford said.

The jackpot for Saturday’s Powerball drawing was $94 million.

In 2007, lottery sales in Douglas County amounted to more than $5.8 million, up from $5.4 million in 2006. Only approximate sales were available for 2008, which also showed $5.4 million. In 2008, the Food Mart where Rayton buys his lottery tickets had the highest lottery sales total in Lawrence: $378,668.

Mornings at the store, when people are going to work, are when a considerable number of lottery sales take place, manager C.W. Lee said. But weekends are when the most lottery sales are made, he said. He has a stack of lottery confirmation cards showing that nearly 100 people have won $500 from tickets purchased at his store.

On Friday morning, Lawrence resident Christopher Mangano purchased a scratch-off ticket from Lee. He said he occasionally buys lottery tickets and the current economic conditions haven’t affected when he makes a purchase. Asked whether he’d ever won anything significant, Mangano shrugged.

“No,” he said.