The economy may still be on the mend. And the jobless rate is still north of 8 percent. But there's been a jump in those trying to scratch it rich.
Figures from the Arizona Lottery show total sales in the budget year just ended of nearly $647 million. Potentially more significant from the state's perspective, the Lottery produced more than $164 million in profits that fund everything from education to transportation. That's the best showing ever since voters gave the go-ahead for state-run gaming more than three decades ago. Lottery Director Jeff Hatch-Miller said the increase is not because people are desperate now to get rich quick.
"We're entertainment for most people," Hatch-Miller said. "The average player, the 50-year-old, $50,000 income player plays for the fun of it. Of course, they want to win big. I'm not saying that they don't. The dream is part of the fun."
But Hatch-Miller said one thing that encourages business is the system is set up to reward many of those who play, even if they'll never take home one of those hundred-million dollar grand prizes.
"The odds of winning are one in three or one in four," Hatch-Miller said. "You're talking about winning the big Powerball or winning the big Megamillions. And that's a whole different world out there. It's hard to imagine. But we give away millions and millions and millions in Powerball every week because people win at lower levels."
But the big seller, dollar-wise, remains those scratch tickets which amount to 60 percent of the lottery's proceeds.