Massachusetts residents spend more of their money playing the lottery than residents in any other state, according to a new analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau — but they make up for it by winning more than almost anyone else in the nation.
The data, compiled by the mortgage broker LendingTree, found Bay Staters spend $805 per year on lottery tickets, far and away the most in the entire country, and the equivalent of about 1% of their overall per capita income.
New Yorkers, the second-most lottery-positive crowd in America, spend $455 per capita on lottery tickets.
Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have state-run lotteries that generate billions of dollars every year. In 2020, the latest year for which data is available, states took in almost $26.7 billion in lottery revenue.
That year, Massachusetts earned $1.38 billion in lottery sales, less than bigger states New York ($3.7 billion), California ($2.2 billion), Florida ($2.06 billion) and Texas ($1.9 billion). The Massachusetts State Lottery said in a news release in September that it had returned $1.1 billion in profit in the last fiscal year, on sales of $5.8 billion, both all-time highs.
A part of the reason Massachusetts earns less than the biggest states is that the system pays out more than other states. The state lottery said it paid out 73.5% of all revenue in the form of winnings in Fiscal Year 2022.
The LendingTree study found that Massachusetts lottery players won $560 per capita, a return of 70% of the money they spent in 2020 — comparable to the state’s data. Only one state, Missouri, paid out more that year, about 71%.
Players in South Dakota were least likely to get their money back. Census data show South Dakota’s lottery system paid out just 19% of its revenue in the form of winnings and prizes.
Residents in Midwestern and Mountain Western states are least likely to gamble on the lottery. North Dakota lottery sales totaled just $32 per capita in 2020. Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico and Oklahoma were all among states where sales were lowest.
States earn the most money from members of Generation X, two-thirds of whom said in a followup survey they play some form of lottery. Baby Boomers are least likely to purchase tickets; just over half, 51%, said they had played lottery games. Only 55% of the members of Generation Z, the generation with the least disposable income, said they played lottery games.
Roughly the same shares of men and women, 60% and 61%, said they played lottery games. Those who make more than $75,000 are marginally more likely to gamble than those who make less than that figure.
Those who do gamble are more likely to buy scratch-off tickets, 86%, than lottery tickets, 65%. Men are more likely to buy lottery tickets, while women are more likely to buy scratch-off tickets.
The followup survey found 58% of people would take the lump-sum payment if they won a major lottery jackpot. Baby Boomers are most likely to say they would take the lump sum, while members of the youngest generation were least likely to say so.
“Take the lump-sum payment,” LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz said in a statement.
But the company underscored just how much the odds of a big prize are stacked against players: Someone has a better chance of being struck by lightening — twice — than they do winning a Powerball jackpot.