Scratch-Off Lottery Sales Boom: Doing More Harm Than Good?

Carol Jones just purchased her $20 scratch-off ticket from the Texas Lottery.  She can win as much as one million dollars...something she knows could be a long shot.

"We talk about what we spend on gambling and nobody is winning anything, not the ones I work with and they are regular buyers," said Carol.

Scratch-offs have been such a success it's said to account for 75% of lottery sales in Texas.  The newest instant game is priced at $50 a piece.

"It's usually a declining revenue source for the state and I think it creates more problems than solved," said District 1 Senator Kevin Eltife.

Those problems, critics said, are that it takes advantage of minorities and the poor.  Some say it could lead to addiction.

They're concerns the Texas Lottery Commission said they're well aware of, but ...

"As long as the people of Texas and the legislature wants us to run a lottery we're going to do the best we can.  Our job is to generate as much revenue as possible as responsibly as possible to help support education in the state of Texas," said Bobby Heith, Director of Media Relations for the Texas Lottery Commission.

Eltife rebuts,"The lottery in Texas was originally sold to the voters based on the theory that it was going to solve the education funding crisis it hasn't come close."

Carol said even though she buys scratch-off's once or so a week, she knows what her limits are.

"You got to be a strong willed, strong minded person. You got to know when to hold 'em and know when to get up and leave!," said Carol.

And with the statewide swing in sales for these tickets, the odds of eliminating the lottery altogether may be pretty slim.

We also spoke with a local psychologist, Dr. Wilson Renfroe, who says those with a gambling addiction tend to get help because those around them make them seek it.

But he says it's a treatable condition because it's a habit that is self-controlled.

Christine Nelson reporting.