How much money do Alabama residents spend on lottery tickets across state lines?


BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — We are looking into how much money Alabama residents are spending on lottery tickets across state lines.

On any given day, if you drive up to Tennessee, down to Florida, or over to Georgia, you can find Alabamians waiting in line to purchase Power Ball tickets and scratch-offs.

Flora-Bama Liquor and Lotto sits on the Gulf Coast catering to beachgoers. Sand-covered vacationers come in to cool off, and they also grab tickets.

“I wish you could’ve been in here earlier today,” one of the cashiers says, describing the lines of Alabama residents waiting to buy tickets.

The store says Alabama residents are always in line.

Nancy Ballard says she picks up a few every time she is on vacation. 

“How much do you think you’ve spent over the years?” Digital Reporter Jessalyn Adams asks.

“Probably spent a couple hundred over the past 5 years,” she says.

A few buyers drive over from Foley.

Rick Gardner says he comes out 1-2 times a month spending anywhere from $5-$10 each time.

“I don’t put a lot into it,” says Gardner.

But the money does add up over time. If Gardner spends around $20 a month, that adds up to $240 a year. 

And he isn’t the only one spending.

Savannah Degas says she and her boyfriend also drive down 1-2 times a month. 

“We spend around $25,” Degas says.

That adds up to $50 a month, adding up to $600 annually. 

In 2017, Market Watch took each states lottery capital and divided it by the state’s population.

Alabama was excluded from the study because the state doesn’t have a lottery.

In Florida, they determined the average lottery spending to be $256.05.

They determined the average Georgia resident spent $356.34. 

But Alabamians contribute to those averages.

Up in Tennessee, we’ve heard from several people who spend anywhere from a few dollars to thousands of dollars several times a year.

We asked one man in Ardmore, TN, who says he travels up 2 times a week how much he thinks he’s spent.

“I don’t even know. A pretty fair amount for sure.”

David Shelton says about the same. 

“Over the years, it’s hard to say,” says Shelton,” A couple thousand.”

According to the Georgia Lottery website, the lottery brought in $1,143,513,309 in 2018.

Tennessee’s lottery website claims it’s brought in $19.8 billion since its inception in the early 2000s.

The Florida Lottery’s 2018 fiscal report claims it brought in $6.7 billion dollars. 

It also claims scratch-off sales have increased. In 2018, scratch off sales exceeded $4.65 billion.

Flora-Bama Liquor and Lotto explained they have a few customers who say “you always have to buy more than one” scratch-off game for good luck.

The theory did not work for Adams. Nor did it work for Ballard this trip.

But Degas said she has had some luck and won a little money back on a few occasions.

During our first trip to Tennessee, we ran into several Alabamians who traveled anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to buy tickets.

So exactly how much money are Alabamians spending on out-of-state lotteries? That number remains unclear, but of all the people we’ve spoken to, there is one thing certain, many Alabamians say they are ready to give their money to their home state.

“For education,” says Ballard.

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