Do college students play the lottery?

Photo courtesy: The Florida Lottery

Although the chances of winning the lottery are slim to none, many people still take the risk to play. Lottery gambling can be considered a fun activity for some, but also pointless if no one wins any money.

When it comes to undergraduate students, who are typically aged 18 to 22, it seems as though many don’t necessarily play as often as other demographics — and it isn’t a focus for them. This observation may be for many reasons, but according to Credit Donkey, the lottery is more likely to be played by younger people than the elderly. Around 70 percent of 20 – 30 year olds buy at least one ticket per year.

In the state of Florida, there are 11 different games available. Common ones are the Mega Millions, Powerball, Florida Lotto and Cash4Life.

In Tallahassee, students and residents can play at multiple locations. A popular one is Publix, which accounted for 20% of the state’s sales in 2019-2020. Along with the popular chain, tickets are available for purchase at other grocery stores, gas stations and the Florida Lottery Tallahassee office.

The Publix on Ocala Road, which is heavily frequented by FAMU and FSU students due to its proximity, is one of the options for those who’d like to play. As for students who do play, one Publix employee who identified herself only as Emma, said that she doesn’t see many college students coming in to purchase tickets.

“It’s usually more older adults. Probably 30s — 50s,” she said.

She said that at her location, customers can only play if they have cash. Though there is an ATM outside the store, this factor can be seen as limiting for those who’d like to buy a ticket.

Going against the grain, Kamari West, a third-year animal science and pre-veterinary major at FAMU, shared how he frequently plays.

“Whenever I go to the gas station, I usually get like five cards,” he said.

West said that he usually buys scratch-offs weekly. He also explained how he tries to keep a budget of $15 or less and that his biggest win was $100.

He limits himself to playing the one-dollar and two-dollar cards, and the reasoning behind why he plays them is due to more sentimental reasons. “As a child, my grandfather used to bring home scratch-offs,” he said. This memory has inspired him to keep playing and it’s more for fun.

He also doesn’t recommend other students buy tickets because he believes it’s a waste of money. He doesn’t think many students are “willing to gamble their money like that,” which is why they don’t play.

While the chances of winning are 1 in millions, the lottery may still be an enjoyable experience for students. The money spent is also for a good cause, as a lot of the funds go toward education. In Florida alone, the lottery has given more than $43 billion to education and funds the Bright Futures Scholarship program.