Lottery Addiction: Guide to Help and Recovery 

May 15, 2024

With so much discussion centered around the success and consequences of sports betting, it’s easy to lose sight of other forms of gambling. Here, we’ll focus on another type, which dates back centuries: the lottery. 

Lotteries, initiated by state governments to bolster finances and support vital projects like senior services, environmental conservation and education, can also pose serious risks when individuals develop addictive behaviors using them.

History of the lottery in the United States

The history of the lottery in the U.S. has been tumultuous, to say the least, and it has evolved over centuries. In the Colonial era, as early as 1612, lotteries were used as a means to raise funds for various public projects, such as the construction of roads, bridges and schools. By the 19th century, many states used lotteries to finance infrastructure projects and public institutions. However, concerns about corruption and fraud led to the banning of lotteries in several states by the mid-19th century.

In 1890, Congress banned the promotion and sale of lottery tickets, and by 1894, legal lotteries were no longer allowed. In the Prohibition era in the 1920s, illegal lotteries known as "numbers games" corrupted urban areas. These underground lotteries often served as fronts for organized crime syndicates. 

In the latter half of the 20th century, first sparked by post-World War II prosperity, attitudes toward lotteries began to shift, and many states moved to legalize and regulate them as a source of revenue for public services. In 1964, New Hampshire became the first state to establish a modern state lottery. Other states soon followed suit, and by the 1980s, most states had their own lotteries.

In 1988, the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) was formed, paving the way for the creation of multi-state lottery games like Powerball and Mega Millions. These games that offer massive jackpots quickly became incredibly popular across the country.

Today, several states offer online lottery sales and subscriptions, allowing players to purchase tickets conveniently from their computers or mobile devices. If you don’t purchase online, lottery tickets are sold commonly at gas stations and grocery stores. 

How old do you have to be to play the lottery?

Age restrictions for lottery participation differ from state to state. The majority of states allow individuals 18+ years old to purchase lottery tickets alongside casino access. In 40 states, individuals as young as 18 can participate in various lottery games, including scratch-offs, Powerball, and Mega Millions. Nebraska requires participants to be 19 years old to play lottery games. In Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, and Mississippi, participants must be 21 or older. Five states - Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah - do not sell lottery tickets at all.

Am I addicted to the lottery?

Whether it’s playing the lottery, sports betting, casino table games or any other form of gambling, there is always a risk that your participation could result in developing an addiction problem. Thankfully, there are specialized resources designed to help you assess the problematic behaviors and get help quickly if needed. 

Birches Health offers free self-assessments that can help you evaluate your behaviors and answer your questions. Then, if care is needed or it would be helpful to speak with a specialist, Birches has a full team of clinicians ready to assist. If you are becoming overly drawn to the thrill of the lottery, compulsively buy tickets on a frequent basis, or find yourself fantasizing over the opportunities of quick riches that the lottery advertises, it may be worth finding help today.

At zero cost to you, Birches can help answer your questions to determine the best next steps. 

Lottery addiction statistics and trends

  1. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), approximately 2-3% of adults in the United States experience problem gambling, with lottery tickets being one of the most common forms of gambling activity among this group.

  2. According to research from the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, a significant portion of lottery revenue comes from a relatively small number of players. For instance, a study on Minnesota's lottery found that 71% of its income is generated by just 20% of its players, while a similar study in Pennsylvania showed that 79% of lottery income comes from 29% of its players.

  3. Studies have found that individuals struggling with lottery addiction may spend significant amounts of money on tickets, sometimes to the point of financial detriment. A report by the NCPG found that problem gamblers spend an average of $1,300 per year on lottery tickets alone.

  4. Research suggests certain demographic groups: low-income individuals, youth and those with pre-existing mental health conditions are often at higher risk. Lottery addiction is often present in combination with other mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and/or substance abuse. Addressing the underlying conditions too is crucial for effective treatment and recovery.

  5. The rise of online lottery ticket sales has made it easier for individuals to access and engage in gambling activities from the comfort of their own homes. This increased convenience may contribute to higher rates of addiction among certain populations.

Online lottery: Jackpocket, Lotto.com and Jackpot.com

Online lottery retailers like Jackpocket, Lotto.com and Jackpot.com provide services related to lottery ticket purchasing and management. These operators – also known as lottery “couriers” – purchase lottery tickets on behalf of their users in exchange for a small fee.

Jackpot.com is an online platform that offers access to a variety of international lotteries and other games of chance. It was founded in 2016 and is headquartered in Malta.

Jackpot.com allows users to purchase tickets for a wide range of lotteries from around the world, including popular games like Powerball, Mega Millions and EuroMillions. Jackpot.com is currently available in five U.S. states.

In 2013, Peter Sullivan created an app for ordering lottery tickets, Jackpocket Inc. Jackpocket is based in New York City. Users can download the Jackpocket app and select their desired lottery game and numbers. The app also provides features such as automatic number selection, ticket scanning, and prize tracking. Jackpocket is available in 14 states and Washington, D.C. 

On February 15, 2024, leading sports betting and DFS operator DraftKings acquired Jackpocket, the top lottery app and site in the U.S., for $750 million. “This transaction will create significant value for DraftKings not only by giving our customers another differentiated product to enjoy but also by improving our overall marketing efficiency similar to how our daily fantasy sports database created an advantage for DraftKings in OSB and iGaming,” said Jason Robins, Co-founder and CEO of DraftKings.

With a leading sportsbook, iGaming and daily fantasy sports product already under its umbrella, DraftKings will aim to cross-sell its customers across its different gambling products and expose them to as many of their gaming options as possible, making all of them just a couple finger taps or clicks away from one another. 

Lottery addiction and Problem Gambling treatment, help and resources

DraftKings’ acquisition of Jackpocket is just one sign of the lottery’s increased role in the modern gambling space. If you or someone you know has a noticeable habit of buying an excessive amount of lottery tickets and may be predisposed to compulsive behavior, Birches Health’s offering of gambling addiction resources could help.

Birches provides easily accessible treatment options, all tailored to individuals' needs from the convenience and comfort of home. With a team of experienced clinicians, many patients can access care with no or little out-of-pocket costs. If you or someone you know could benefit from the services offered by Birches Health, please don't hesitate to contact us today.

Sources:

DRAFTKINGS REACHES AGREEMENT TO ACQUIRE JACKPOCKET FOR $750 MILLION

The settlers brought the lottery to America. It's had a long, uneven history

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