Lotteries Nationwide Set Sights on Young Adults

NATIONAL REPORT -- From launching new cell phone apps to aligning with charitable causes, lotteries in the United States are trying new ways to attract Millennial players, according to a report by the Associated Press.

"Everyone who's above 40 comes in every day and spends like $80 on lottery tickets," Madi Williams, a 21-year-old convenience store clerk in downtown Raleigh, N.C., told the news outlet. "Never really young people. I'm not interested and I've never thought about why."

A lag in technology may be part of the reason why, according to the news report. 

"[The] U.S. is behind the rest of the world in technological innovation," Don Feeney, research and planning director of Minnesota's lottery, told the AP. In comparison, Canada and the United Kingdom began selling lottery tickets online nearly a decade ago.

In the U.K., a quarter of lottery players are between the ages of 16 and 24 and register for tickets and games online, according to Camelot Business Solutions, which operates lotteries in the U.K. and is working on expanding its digital instant games.

In the U.S., people between the ages of 25 and 34 participate least in the lottery, the AP reported.

"It’s always been the case that the sweet spot for lottery demographics comes into play after the age of 30," said Paul Jason, CEO of the Public Gaming Institute. He pointed out that since young adults have grown up in the digital age, they expect a different gaming experience.

States are trying new tactics to broaden their lotteries' appeal to the younger demographic. For instance, North Carolina ties its lottery to education and is trying new twists on traditional lottery products, as well as focused marketing. 

Meanwhile, the Illinois Lottery, which was the first state lottery to go online, offers games that direct money to breast cancer and multiple sclerosis research, as well as to the Special Olympics.

"Young adults really care about causes. They really want to help things they believe in and causes they believe in," said Illinois Lottery Director Michael Jones.

Illinois is testing the waters with technology, but of its approximately 9 million lottery players, only 174,000 have downloaded its new gaming phone app that was introduced in January. Jones believes the industry's future is at risk if more 20- to 30-somethings don't start playing lotteries more consistently.

"You'll eventually be in the same position as horse racing," he explained. "We've got to think beyond instant tickets and terminal-based drawings and think about what technology and imagination can create." 

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