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Is Lotto Fever A Real Illness?

The odds were 1 in 80 million for the chance to win the world's biggest lottery jackpot Wednesday - an award of $250 million.

For some Powerball players, those odds seem within reach - an unlikely delusion that some doctors say is a new sickness, Correspondent Manuel Ramos of CBS station KPIX-TV in San Francisco reports.

"I bought $150 worth," one woman said.

About 90 percent of all adults in California have bought lotto tickets at one time or another, each spending $2 average on tickets.

Doctors say that lotteries are creating a class of addicts that are similar to hard-core gamblers. They have given lotto fever a medical name: "Lottery Fantasy Syndrome."

"Instead of living today, you live on dreams and hopes," said psychiatrist Dr. Carla Perez.

Perez and other experts agree that betting on Powerball is a true addiction that sucks people into lying, overspending, and fantasizing.

Experts say there are several obvious effects of the syndrome, including:

  • Spending more than $10 per game
  • Daydreaming about winnings
  • Feeling that winning the lottery is the only way to change your life
  • Feeling that playing is no longer fun, but a chore
Perez warns people who are finding themselves dangerously low on personal funds or lying about buying tickets. Some bettors, reports say, have even taken out second mortgages on their houses to afford themselves more tickets and increase their odds.