COVID-19 continues to force changes in every area of gambling.
Casinos have not been able to reopen and the staples of spring sports betting are no longer available. Lotteries around the country have also been forced to make changes of their own, but for some, they aren’t going far enough.
Stop Predatory Gambling, a group whose name really says it all, recently sent a letter to governors around the country.
That letter urges states to shut down their lottery systems starting on April 20. The group wants those shutdowns to last until at least 30 days after the public receives federal stimulus checks.
The reasoning behind Stop Predatory Gambling’s letter
The group has concerns about how Americans might spend their stimulus money.
Their argument is that, since that government money comes from tax dollars, it should be spent a certain way. Groceries and rent, they argue, are more important than lottery tickets.
Stop Predatory Gambling argues that Americans should be saving their money and building investments. Les Bernal, the national director of the group, says that lottery systems run counter that idea.
“A home, a college fund, retirement accounts, a stock portfolio – these assets are the hallmarks of middle and upper class America, and they are all the result of savings. Creating wealth by the accumulation and investment of savings is the direct opposite of what state lotteries represent and encourage.”
So the question is, will Americans be spending big chunks of their checks on the lottery?
The group claims that state lotteries are one of the root causes of why the majority of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. But, it doesn’t offer any support for the claim. The letter cites Bankrate for the $1,000 number but doesn’t put forth anything that pins the blame for it on state lotteries.
The numbers just aren’t backing up the idea that Americans will be rushing to buy lottery tickets with their stimulus money.
Mega Millions and Powerball already losing players
Both Mega Millions and Powerball have had to make sweeping changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The situation has caused the sales of both games to plummet. Now with less money coming in, there’s also less money going out.
Early on in April, the estimated Powerball jackpot was about $190 million. Now, the current drawing has taken quite a fall down to $29 million.
The game usually increases the jackpot by $10 million in between drawings, but declining sales have pushed that number down to $2 million.
Mega Millions is in a similar spot. The starting jackpot is typically $40 million with $5 million bumps between drawings. Both the starting jackpot and those increases have been eliminated by falling sales.
Since both Powerball and Mega Millions are multi-state lottery games available almost everywhere, they’re the most popular lotteries in the country.
If the biggest lotteries are bracing for the fallout of rapidly declining sales, then state-specific groups like the Hoosier Lottery are probably feeling that same decline.
That’s just the new reality since everyone’s spending a lot more time at home right now during the health crisis.
The biggest lotteries around expecting those sales declines to continue certainly doesn’t fall in line with the idea that Americans are itching to spend those stimulus checks on tickets.