Texas Lottery sales plunge $45M since last year

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas Lottery ticket revenues plummeted by $45.1 million since last fiscal year.

Lottery officials blame the sales plunge on Hurricane Ike and the recession.

Commission spokeswoman Leticia Vasquez says the hurricane season wiped out lucrative sales across Houston and Galveston, a region that accounts for one-fourth of state lottery retailers.

High fuel and food prices also appeared to have an impact on playing habits. An in-house study by the Lottery Commission between June and September found that nearly 10% of people surveyed who played in the past month stopped because more money was going to gas and food.

The 4% decline affects education dollars the lottery provides to the state. Some economic observers say it'll be no great surprise if sales continue to drop.

This September's lottery contribution to Texas schools was $66 million, down $5 million from September 2007.

Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com