Lottery Gambling and Demographic and Behavioral Variables
Lottery gambling is a popular activity and generates substantial state revenues. However, critics allege that the lottery promotes addictive gambling behavior and is a major regressive tax on lower-income individuals. They also contend that it leads to poorer health outcomes and criminal activities.
In a national survey of Americans, lottery play was found to be associated with several demographic and behavioral variables. Among other things, men gambled more on the lottery than women. Also, those who gambled more on the lottery were younger than those who did not. Moreover, those who played the lottery were more likely to live in rural areas. These findings are consistent with other research on gambling and gender as well as other correlated behaviors such as alcohol and drug use.
The most significant predictor of lottery gambling was socioeconomic status, followed by neighborhood disadvantage. Neighborhood disadvantage was a stronger predictor than socioeconomic status alone, as it is a more direct measure of the level of deprivation that is experienced by an individual. The fact that lottery gambling was legal in a person’s state of residence was also a significant predictor.
Those who gambled on the lottery were also more likely to be male and to have high levels of socioeconomic disadvantage. Moreover, those who gambled on the lottery were more likely to believe that skill could help them win, even though it is very unlikely that anyone will ever beat the odds of winning the lottery. This is a classic example of the illusion of control, which occurs when people overestimate their ability to affect outcomes that are left to chance.