Floridians are predicted to spend a record amount on lottery tickets this year, which could be a sign the economy is recovering, or that consumers are feeling more desperate than ever.
After rising steadily for years, Florida Lottery sales fell in 2009 as the economy slumpped.
But ticket sales, which include scratch-off games, Powerball, Lotto Plus and Fantasy 5, have picked up this year and are expected to hit $4.26 billion for the year that ends June 30, lottery officials said Thursday.
Some observers say a slowly recovering economy has emboldened Floridians to buy more tickets.
Others say the economic problems has led Floridians to turn to lottery tickets as a last resort.
Playing the lottery might be a losing proposition for most, but it generates more than $1 billion a year to pay for education and college scholarships.
Lottery officials are marketing aggressively. In their latest push, Florida persuaded Wal-Mart to sell lottery tickets at 30 supermarkets in the state. The pilot program is being watched by lottery officials nationwide.