(NEXSTAR) — The people of Massachusetts, more so than any other state, are really itching to spend their cash on scratch-offs and lottery tickets. That’s one of the major takeaways from a new study conducted by LendingTree, which sought to determine which states’ residents spend—and lose—the most cash on lottery games per capita.
The study, based on lottery data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2020 Annual Survey of State Government Finance, found that residents of Massachusetts spent a whopping $805.30 cents per capita on lottery and scratch-off tickets that year. For perspective, New York—where residents spent the second-most on lottery tickets in the country—had a per capita average of $455.93, according to the study.
The top ten states where residents spent the most on lottery tickets in 2020, according to LendingTree’s study, are listed below. Rhode Islanders, Georgians, and Michiganders rounded out the top five, spending an average of $429.88, $429.51, and $408.51, respectively, per capita in 2020. The full rankings can be found at LendingTree.com.
|Massachusetts||$805.30 per capita|
In addition to buying spending the most on lottery tickets, Massachusetts residents also spent the largest percentage of their income on these games when compared with the rest of the country: For every $1,000 of personal income, Bay Staters spent an average of $10.26 per capita trying to hit the lottery jackpots in 2020, the study suggests.
Somewhat surprisingly, the residents of Massachusetts weren’t the biggest lottery losers in the country. When comparing sales to payouts, lottery players in Rhode Island won back only $148.25 after spending an average of $429.88, for a net loss of 281.63 per capita. West Virginians lost about $249.81 per capita, while folks in Massachusetts lost around $244.49.
“If you only play the lottery occasionally and only spend a few dollars a time, no real harm is done,” said Matt Schultz, the chief credit analyst for LendingTree, in a statement that probably comes as no surprise to the people of Rhode Island or Massachusetts. “However, if you’re consistently playing $10 or $20 or more each week, that adds up over time. You’re dropping more than $1,000 a year on lottery tickets if you play just $20 per week. That’s real money that could be earning interest and growing your wealth or bulking up your emergency fund instead.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the states where residents spent the least on lottery games in 2020 (aside from Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah, where there currently are no state lottery programs) included North Dakota ($32.24 per capita), Wyoming ($40.97), Montana ($58.62), New Mexico ($63.83) Oklahoma ($71.23), according to LendingTree’s analysis.
Across all states, Americans counted among the “baby boomer” generation were also found least likely to play the lottery at all, with only 51% saying they buy some sort of lottery ticket, according to a LendingTree survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults. Gen Zers were somewhat more likely at 55%, while millennials and Gen Xers were found to be the most likely to play, at 64% and 66%.