Economy

Which States Have The Best Odds For Powerball Drawing?

January 13th 2016

By:
Kyle Jaeger

A record $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot has enticed people across the U.S., leading droves to buy up lotto tickets in the hopes of matching all six numbers to win. The odds of winning are one in 292 million, but that hasn't stopped people from taking the gamble.

So who will win the jackpot?

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The only time that the lotto seems to make national headlines is when the prize exceeds the norm, when it's so high that it demands attention. But people play the lotto year-round — in some states more than others. We looked at where the most money is spent on lottery tickets with the theory that the people buying the most lottery tickets are most likely to win tonight's Powerball. Based on the data, our guess is that the winner will be in New York, Florida, or Massachusetts. Here's why.

Here's how much each state spends on lotteries.

lottery states

New York, Florida, and Massachusetts residents spent the most on state lotto tickets in 2013, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. And the South and Northeast appeared to have the greatest regional concentration of lottery players. Seven states — Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Hawaii, and Alaska — don't have state lottery systems and don't participate in national games such as the Powerball. (They've been left blank on the map, respectively).

So what happens to all of that money?

State lottery systems generate revenue for state governments. While money from the lottery has to pay for expenses, including advertising, lotto commission workers' salaries, vender fees, and other items, the rest of the profits usually go toward state revenue funds. It varies between states, however. In Rhode Island, only about 11 cents per ticket sale go toward the state's annual budget; in Oregon, it's nearly 50 cents per ticket sale.

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"Once net profits are totaled, it’s up to the state to decide what they’ll do with the money," Mental Floss reported. "A common benefactor of lottery profits are education budgets. (All profits for Virginia Lottery sales, for example, go to a K-12 education fund). Research has also shown that some states count lottery profits as general revenue, or use them to subsidize tax cuts promised by politicians, making them a sort of hidden, 'voluntary tax.'"

The use of lottery revenue for state education programs has certainly helped states such as California, which puts about 80 cents per ticket sale toward K-12 education, community colleges, and public universities. But in other states such as Oklahoma — which only spent about $200,000 on the state lottery in 2013 — the revenue system has faced criticism for failing to meet expectations in terms of its ability to generate funds for education.