A new study by the lottery industry says hooking more young gamblers could provide up to $14 billion more in funding for schools. Most lottery gamblers are over 35, the study found, women play less than men, and young adults aged 18 to 24 play least of all.
To lasso a younger generation of gamblers, study authors suggest increasing the size of lottery payouts and putting more outlets where people are more likely to run across them — as in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which has become Georgia’s top seller of lottery tickets.
I doubt that will do much to dilute the greatest concentration of lottery venues, which typically target convenience stores and shops in low-income areas.
I’m intrigued by the finding that the 18-24 year age group gambles least of all, and wondered why. Maybe they still remember enough math to understand why playing the lottery is like investing with Bernie Madoff. Maybe it’s because they have less disposable income, or dispose more of it on things that lead to more immediate gratification. Maybe it’s because they know they can fall back on their parents, and don’t yet feel the desperation that fuels gambling by some older adults and makes the lottery such a predator on the poor.
I’m not sure why younger people play the lottery less, but I am certain that persuading them to gamble more is a poor strategy for states that care about their people’s future.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.