PORTLAND – An Oregon student’s study concludes what critics of state-run lotteries have contended for years: The cheap chance at a dream plays to the uneducated and poor who can least afford to lose.
Peter Balducci’s bachelor’s degree thesis will be published next month in the Northwest Journal of Business and Economics, but the Oregon Lottery isn’t waiting that long to refute it.
Lottery spokesman David Hooper called Balducci’s methods “bogus” and cited a 1996 survey that showed no correlation between income and lottery spending.
Hooper said the study shows only that high-volume lottery dealers set up shop in low-income neighborhoods, not that residents are the ones buying tickets there.
The study comes to light as lottery commissioners consider adding video slots to Oregon’s list of games, which would boost revenues an estimated 10 percent.
Balducci, a recent graduate of Lewis & Clark College, compared income data from the 1990 Census with 1994 quarterly lottery sales in each Oregon ZIP code.
He says he found that people in poorer neighborhoods spent both a higher percentage of their incomes on the lottery and spent more in absolute dollar terms. For every 10 percent increase in neighborhood income, lottery play declined by 7 percent.
Balducci says he acknowledges problems in his thesis but says studies in other states support his results.
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