Lotteries are hugely popular in the United States. In 2015, American adults spent $66.8 billion on lottery tickets, amounting to about $270 per adult.
It’s not clear what drives such interest on a national scale — whether it’s because of innate optimism or economic desperation. What is clear is that the odds are against the players: in total, state lotteries pay out just over 60% of what they take in. Prizes awarded by state lotteries in 2015 totalled just under $43 billion.
> Lottery spending per adult: $184.01
> Total lottery ticket sales: $5.53 billion (2nd most)
> Adult population: 39,144,818
> Median household income: $64,500 (17th lowest)
> Prizes won per adult: $116.63 (18th lowest)
Not every state participates in the lottery — 44 have a statewide system. Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and Utah are the current exceptions, although bills have been proposed in the legislatures of several of these to change this. Wyoming recently introduced a lottery of its own, but data is not yet available for ticket sales or payouts for the state.