Missouri lottery sales flat for the first time in more than 20 years

Monday, December 15, 2008 | 11:48 a.m. CST; updated 10:44 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 11, 2009

KANSAS CITY — The economic recession hasn't meant increased lottery sales in Missouri and Kansas.

While both states have reported increases in sales of instant or scratcher tickets, overall lottery sales in Missouri are flat after rising nearly every year for more than 20 years. In Kansas, lottery sales are down.

Lottery officials also said flat sales were linked to a lack of huge jackpots, which always cause sales to spike. Both Missouri and Kansas participate in the multistate Powerball game, the jackpot of which can grow to hundreds of millions of dollars.

"It would be hard to flush out exactly what's causing it," said Susan Goedde, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Lottery Commission. "We haven't grown, so there is a good chance that (the economy) is affecting it."

Casino operators in Missouri and elsewhere link their declining business to a retrenchment in overall entertainment spending because of the economic uncertainty. Still, it is a lot easier to take your chances at the convenience store in the form of lottery tickets than it is to go out to the boats and, probably, gamble more.

The economic downturn has also meant a loss of about 50 retailers that sold Kansas Lottery tickets, said Kansas Lottery spokeswoman Sally Lunsford.

"That has had an impact," said Lunsford, who said overall lottery sales fell 4.2 percent for the week ending Dec. 6, compared with last year.

The impact of flat sales in Missouri means no additional money this year for public education on top of the $265 million generated in fiscal 2008.

The drop in Kansas means reductions to various funds, the largest of which is for economic development initiatives, and to the state's general fund, which already is facing a budget crunch. In fiscal 2008, lottery contributions totaled $70 million.

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