Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Should we be alarmed?

I covered the latest monthly meeting of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce this week for Merrimack Valley Magazine and came away from it - well, amazed. State Treasurer Timothy Cahill told the group that the per capita, per person average spent on lottery tickets per year in MA is $700. The national average is $170 per person and the next highest amount nationally was $300 per person. There is one lottery machine for every 175 people in this state.

"It's just a fact," Cahill said to me later. "People in Massachusetts love the lottery."

Well I guess so.

When he announced the figures, there was an audible gasp from the audience.

At a previous meeting I attended, the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, State Sen. Susan Tucker said that there are a disproportionate number of lottery machines in places such as the less affluent sections of Lowell.

I don't know where I stand on the state-sanctioned gambling issue. Where does everyone else stand?

On another note, Cahill also said - and I don't think this has been reported anywhere - that he is looking to borrow against future federal funds to repair 10 bridges that need high-cost repairs, including our own Whittier Bridge on I-95. If anyone recalls, there was a story in the Newburyport Current and Amesbury News when Cahill ruffled feathers with his (perhaps) implication that the bridge was about to collapse. (The bridge is of the same design as the one that collapsed in Minnesota last year.)

"I think it's a great way to access federal money and not impact the budget right now," Cahill said. "It's vital to get these projects done."

The state, Cahill said, gets 80% reimbursement from the feds but would not be able to access the money until 2015.


Justin said...

The reality is worse than what the statistics present. $700 is just an average.

Since I spent $0 on lottery tickets last year, then someone else spent $1400 on lottery tickets. (Or two other people spent $1050 each, or that three people spent $933 each.)

I can't imagine who has that much spare cash lying around to waste on lottery tickets.

I'd love to see a graph of number of people v. money spent. "Average" is misleading.

Gillian Roberta Swart said...

I plan to go more in depth on this issue in a future post.