Despite the troubled economy and rising unemployment, the Minnesota state lottery had a pretty good year in 2009.
Sales for the state lottery were essentially unchanged from 2008 to 2009. Betting fell only about one percent in 2009 to $482 million. Lottery scratch ticket sales fell slightly, but Powerball sales rose about four percent, driven by large jackpots.
"With the larger jackpots you're going to have higher sales in Powerball," said Joe Paul, the lottery's chief financial officer. "And that really helped us stay strong and kept our sales going through calendar year '09."
Paul said the lottery provides a good value for folks entertained by gambling.
"We feel like we have an affordable alternative for the entertainment dollar," he said. "For example, if you look at other forms of gambling, they've dropped significantly across the country, like in Vegas. Or in Minnesota here, the racetrack and pull tabs are all down."
The state makes more money on Powerball bets. Scratch tickets pay out about 70 cents for every dollar wagered, but with Powerball, the state pays out only about 50 cents for every dollar bet. The lottery generated almost a $125 million profit for the state last year.