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On the Records: Mapping Lottery Sales

Earlier this week, the Austin American-Statesman published an interesting series about the Texas Lottery. We mapped the data, which the paper's editors graciously released, to visualize fiscal year 2009 sales and residents' income characteristics by zip code.

Statewide lottery sales in 2009 by zip code.

Earlier this week, the Austin American-Statesman published an interesting series about the Texas Lottery.

The first story, written by Eric Dexheimer, noted how the game has evolved since it launched in 1992:

Since the Texas Lottery opened for business in 1992, it has generally been portrayed as a success, raising billions of dollars for public education. Yet the state's largest legal gambling enterprise has also changed from two decades ago, when it was sold as a harmless entertainment that would raise huge sums of money and ease the tax burden on Texans to support their schools.

Two other pieces explored whether the lottery collects disproportionate revenue from the poor and uneducated, and noted that more people now prefer instant scratch-off tickets over the Lotto. In addition, the paper posted a searchable database and map of the top lottery retailers. 

At @karltm's suggestion, we mapped the data, which the paper's editors graciously released. The interactive map below visualizes fiscal year 2009 sales by zip code (larger blue bubbles represent higher sales), against a background of income characteristics by zip code. While not a scientific analysis — the zip code demographics are dated and therefore somewhat imprecise — the map shows that the wealthiest areas have lower sales. 

(Off course, maybe they have fewer gas stations, too).

Thanks again to the Statesman for releasing its data. Let us know if you have ideas for maps or other visualizations — and be sure to follow @TribData on Twitter for updates.

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