The lottery has hit the jackpot. Last year, for the first time in Illinois history, sales of the assorted lottery games surpassed the take at the state’s casinos, soaring to $1.84 billion. The lottery is such a cash cow that Governor Blagojevich has proposed leasing or selling it off-and legalizing keno, too-saying the deal would produce a big payoff for school funding and construction projects. Here’s a look at the numbers.

Percentage of Illinois adults who bought lottery tickets in June
Average amount spent on lottery tickets per U.S. resident in 2005
Number of Illinois lottery millionaires
Sources: Illinois Lottery; North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries

How We Compare


Total Sales (2005)

1. New York
2. Massachusetts
3. Texas
4. Florida
5. California
6. Georgia
7. Pennsylvania
8. New Jersey
9. Ohio
10. Michigan
11. Illinois

$6.27 billion
$4.49 billion
$3.66 billion
$3.47 billion
$3.33 billion
$2.92 billion
$2.65 billion
$2.27 billion
$2.16 billion
$2.07 billion
$1.84 billion

The Illinois lottery brings in big, big bucks-more than $13 billion since the games began in 1974-but not nearly as much as in some other states. What’s the secret of success for state lotteries? Sometimes, it’s just the luck

of the draw, says David Gale, executive director for the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. Gale says other states typically have bigger jackpot drawings, which attract more players. He adds that, besides offering bigger prizes, the top lottery states also have more games to play.

Source: North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries

Show Me the Money:
Where Your Lottery Dollar Went in 2005

Prizes Awarded to Winners: $1.04 billion
Transfers to Illinois Common School Fund: $619 million

Vendor Commissions and Bonuses: $131 million

Lottery Operating Expenses $61 million

Source: Illinois Lottery

A Sampling Of Games


Cost of Game

The Jackpot

Odds of Winning

Comparable Odds

Mega Millions


starts at $12 million

1 in 175,711,536

Hitting holes in one on three consecutive par-3 holes



starts at $2 million

1 in   10,179,260

Becoming president

Little Lotto


starts at $100,000

1 in 575,757

Getting struck by lightning

Pick 4


up to $5,000

1 in 10,000

Picking a four-leaf clover on the first try

Pick 3


up to $500

1 in 1,000

Voldemort will survive Harry Potter VII

Sources: Life: The Odds, by Gregory Baer;