The lottery was first started in Colorado in 1890. Today, lottery sales are popular throughout the country. Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Washington state also offer lottery games. The NASPL reports sales figures for each state and the District of Columbia. Overall, sales are down in seven states and the District of Columbia, but up in Missouri, Florida, and the District of Columbia. The lottery is legal and enjoyed wide public support.
The lottery is an increasingly common activity in the United States, with about 17 percent of Americans participating on a regular basis. A similar number of people play about once a week. The remaining 66 percent of lottery players play a few times per month. People from middle-class families are most likely to play the lottery. In South Carolina, lottery players are more likely to be high-school-educated middle-aged men. But how much do they actually spend on lottery tickets? There is no reliable way to tell, and the data are not conclusive.
Most states have lottery retailers. The NASPL Web site lists nearly 186,000 retail locations. Among those, New Jersey has an Internet site where retailers can read lottery promotions and ask questions. Retailers can also view sales data by individual players. Louisiana implemented a lottery retailer optimization program in 2001. Lottery officials provide retailers with demographic data to help them increase sales and improve marketing strategies. However, the number of lottery retailers varies from state to state. The more lottery retailers a state has, the more profitable it will be for the state.