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The Geography of Lottery Spending in Chicago

In 2011, Chicagoans spent $600 million playing the state lottery, out of $2.3 billion statewide. Here’s a map that shows which areas of the city are the biggest spenders.

Over at the Chicago Reporter, Alden Loury has a post arguing against the use of the state lottery to fund education. About 30 cents of every dollar spent on it goes to schools; the rest goes to prizes and running the lottery. But he’s also concerned all the money spent on lottery tickets; Chicagoans buy a substantial amount.

The state’s top three lottery-spending ZIP codes—60619, 60628 and 60651, each surpassing $20 million in sales during fiscal year 2011—are majority-black ZIP codes on Chicago’s South and West sides. Check here for lottery sales and demographic data for every ZIP code in Illinois.

In 60619, the area between 71st Street and 95th Street from the Dan Ryan Expressway to Stony Island Avenue, folks spent a whopping $26.8 million on lottery tickets in fiscal year 2011. If people took just half of that money and donated it directly to the 20 public schools in 60619, it would mean an additional $670,000 a year for each school.

Of course, some zip codes are bigger than others. 60619, 60628, and 60651 are all fairly large (74k, 104k, and 64k; the average zip code in Chicago has about 50,000 residents). So I mapped Loury’s data, and included average lottery ticket sales per resident. I was surprised at how high they are, and not just in the high-spending zip codes. The Loop is obviously going to be distorted, because its residents-to-workers ratio is so skewed, but it does add some more detail to Loury’s stats. The gradients represent total spending for 2011; click on the zip code to get per-person spending (there’s no data for 60642). 60628, in context, looks less like an outlier, but the other two that Loury noted do indeed have pretty high per-person spending totals.

 

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