The relentless quest of Latinos for a better future means big bucks for state lotteries
Latinos love their gambling and it shows loud and clear when it comes to the lottery. It’s the most wildly spread game of chance, it has the toughest odds to beat, and it fuels the biweekly dreams of millions of people in the United States - many of them Latinos.
The Latino lottery player is kind of a mystery. According to a study by The Independent Gaming Research (IGR), a research group related to the gambling industry, the Latino lottery player fits the profile of some sort of idyllic gambler. Better educated and with a higher income than the Latino who doesn’t play, the Latino lottery player accounts for 59 percent of the Latino population (6 in 10 Latino households have played the lottery).
Surprisingly, this is somehow still lower than the Non-Latino lottery player which is 64 percent. In 2010 alone, the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries said Americans spent $58 billion on lottery tickets – or $200 per person. According to the IGR, the Latino lottery player is more likely to invest in the stock market and is likely to be more aggressive in their investment. Guilt-free chance is the name of the game, of course.
These findings contrast with a Demographic Study of Lottery Players in the State of Texas compiled by Texas Tech University. Of all ethnic groups, Texas Tech found Latinos to be the one with the highest participation in the game. The study also found that Latinos spend twice as much as Anglos per player, and lottery players with no high school diploma spend more than three times as much as those with college degrees. In 2002, the Chicago Reader reported that low-income Latinos and African Americans generated the highest lottery sales in Illinois from 1997 to 2002.
The Texas Tech study was done only in the state of Texas while the IGR study was nationwide, still the discrepancies between them are quite puzzling, to say the least.
One thing that we can all agree on is that the idea of changing one’s fortune overnight is universally appealing and if there is one thing that can be said about Latinos in the United States is that we are relentless in our pursuit of a better life. Why else are we here for if not for exactly that reason? Investing a few bucks weakly seems like an insurance policy, which will only payoff to a very lucky few. Still, leaving the “what if” untapped seem kind of dangerous. After all, the only way to win the lottery is to play it.
Take it for what it’s worth, by my own empirical observation lottery players in my area are mostly Latino and older. Players patiently stand in lines to buy their tickets in my local grocery store, the higher the jackpot the longer and more diverse the line. Why do I observe them so much? Because I play it too. These IGR folks may be up to something after all.