The $70 billion Americans spend on lottery tickets amounts to an enormous amount of money that could be better spent on saving for retirement or paying off credit card debt. It also represents “more than 10% of the total state revenue in states’ collective budgets,” according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. It’s a substantial sum that goes to the profits of private companies that print scratch-off tickets, run computer systems and, in some cases, handle marketing and advertising.
A large chunk of these profits also goes to convenience stores, which get a 6% commission for selling tickets and receive bonuses for cashing in winnings. And although this revenue lags behind the profit margin of cigarettes, alcohol and food, the profits from lottery ticket sales are crucial to these stores.
Lottery profits are then shared with the states, which can use them to fund education programs, support gambling addiction treatment and other initiatives. They can even use it to balance their general fund and cover shortfalls. In fact, the 44 states that have lotteries get 44 cents from this form of gambling for every dollar they receive in corporate taxes.
When you win the lottery, you can choose to take a lump-sum payout or an annuity payment. The lump-sum option allows you to invest your money, while the annuity pays out a set number of payments over time. The choice depends on your financial goals and state laws. Some states allow you to sell future lottery annuity payments for a lump-sum, while others require court approval before selling your annuity.