America’s Love Affair with the Lottery is at an All-Time High

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Tomorrow marks one full month since the last Powerball jackpot was won. The lottery ticket sold in New Hampshire, which officials say matches all six numbers in the Powerball draw is worth $487 million. The winning numbers of 11-17-21-23-32 (Powerball number was 5) are surely going to make someone’s dreams come true, except we just don’t know who yet, as the ticket is still unclaimed.

While this particular winner still has 11 more months to claim the prize, unclaimed lottery tickets in the United States are more common than you would think. In 2013, a whopping $2.04 billion worth of lottery winnings went unclaimed in the United States alone and this February, a $63 million lottery prize sold in California went to waste. This number should only increase as jackpots creep higher and the market grows larger.

Related: Top Vendors in the Online Gambling Market in the US

Lottery Market in the United States

The global lottery market is currently valued at $318 billion with the United States accounting for over 25% of the lottery market worldwide. The lottery market in the US is currently valued at over $80 billion and is expected to surpass $100 billion by 2020.


lottery market in the US

Approximately half of Americans buy at least one lottery ticket at some point in their life. In 2015, 20% of the population in the country purchased about 80% of lottery tickets. Low income families are the number one purchasers of lottery tickets and it is estimated that in 2015, on an average, households making less than $12,000 a year spent 5% of their income on lotteries.

Lottery ticket sales intensified in 2015, including the sales of a Powerball jackpot with the prize money of $1.58 billion, making it the highest prize ever paid in its history (one of the three winning tickets is still unclaimed). Lottery ticket sales remained above average in 2015, which boosted final pay-outs totaling nearly $40 billion. Powerball tickets were sold in 44 states, as well as Washington D.C, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.


Powerball Jackpot Winners by State (All-Time)


Which states have the most profitable lotteries?

The New York state lottery made a profit of nearly $3 billion in 2015, which is more than double the profit earned by Massachusetts — the second-most profitable state lottery system. This was, however, less than the fiscal profit of the state in 2011. Instant-win games sold more than any other games, while video lottery terminals sold over $15 billion, much higher than any other state that offers VLTs. The earnings from these lottery sales are largely used for funding public education. Since its foundation in 1966, more than $45 billion in profits were transferred to public schools.


2015 Lottery Revenue – Top 10 States

lottery market by state

The state lottery in Massachusetts has been operating for more than 40 years and has earned over $80 billion from the sale of lottery tickets. In 2015 alone, the state sold tickets worth more than $4 billion. The state generates the majority of its lottery revenue from local state games instead of multi-state games. The sale of Powerball and Mega Millions in Massachusetts was ranked 19th and 12th, respectively, among all the states in 2015. They have produced several major winners, including a $290 million Mega Millions winner in 2004.

The California lottery was created in 1984 and has contributed over $1 billion in profit for the state every year since 2008. In 2015, the sale of Mega Millions tickets was higher in the state with a total value of around $700 million, when compared with the multi-state game, which was valued only at $300 million. In the same year, the California was ranked sixth in total prizes won and third in paying the beneficiaries. All profits from the lottery system of California were directed to education, benefiting K-12 schools as well as higher education.

Due to the increasing popularity of lotteries, three states; Mississippi, Alabama, and Utah are making efforts to legalize the game. These states are looking to follow in Wyoming’s footsteps, who in 2015, legalized lotteries in the state, in the light of the growing revenue advantage. The revenue generated from the sale of these tickets is expected to be largely used for economic development of the state. The legalizing of the lottery sales will also discourage the residents from engaging in inter-state purchase of lottery and thus retain the revenue inside the state. However, the sale of Megamillions and Powerball will not commission in Wyoming until the end of 2016.

View the 2016-2020 Lottery Market in the US Report