COLUMBIA (AP) – This Washington County town has the distinction of selling more lottery tickets per capita than any municipality in Maine.

Lottery ticket sales in 2002 averaged $805 for each of the town’s 475 residents, according to an analysis by the Bangor Daily News. Edgecomb, three hours south in Lincoln County, had the lowest spending on lottery tickets, with $3.17 per capita last year.

Kathy Greene, owner of Delia’s, a market on U.S. Route 1, wasn’t surprised that lottery sales in Columbia are so high. She estimates that three of every four customers buy lottery tickets, which range from $1 to $10 each.

“I suppose it’s the whole ‘get rick quick’ thing,” Greene said.

At Mary’s Pop-In, the only store in Edgecomb to sell lottery tickets, owner Mary Grant said she doesn’t sell a whole lot of tickets.

“I wish I could tell you I sell a million of them, but I don’t,” she said. Mainers last year spent an average of $123.06 on lottery ticket sales last year, according to the Maine State Lottery.

The Bangor Daily News analysis suggested that people in low-income counties spend more money on the lottery than people in high-income counties. An Associated Press analysis in 2001 came to the same conclusion.

The newspaper also reported that the 20 Maine towns with the lowest per capita lottery sales had an average per capita income 28 percent higher than the 20 towns with the highest lottery sales.

After Columbia, the towns with the highest spending per capita on lottery tickets were West Forks ($661), Waite ($638), Avon ($539), and St. Francis ($392). The newspaper said the lowest-spending on tickets was in Edgecomb, followed by North Yarmouth ($3.53), Brooksville ($4.77), Porter ($5.27) and Eliot ($5.45).

There are plenty of exceptions to the notion that lottery ticket sales are highest in low-income communities.

In Ogunquit, where the per capita income is 75 percent above the state average, lottery sales last year were more than 11/2 times above the state average. In Cutler, one of the state’s poorest communities, only $6.19 per capita was spent on lottery tickets, the seventh-lowest total in the state.

AP-ES-06-16-03 1033EDT

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