Georgians Are ‘Biggest Suckers’ For Playing Lottery

Lottery players in Georgia have been labeled the ‘biggest suckers’ by a new study that examines spending on lottery tickets.

Bloomberg’s so-called ‘Sucker Index’ found Georgians spent an average of $470.73 on the lottery in 2010. In a state where the per capita income is about 10 percent below the U.S. average, that equates to 1 percent of the average Georgian’s personal income. Meanwhile, it was also discovered Georgian players received only the sixth-highest prize payouts: 63 cents for each dollar spent.

State-run games, as Bloomberg Rankings notes, have the worst odds of any form of legal gambling. Yet that hasn’t deterred Georgians, who collectively spend the second-highest chunk of their income on the lottery.

As a nation, the U.S spends more than $50 billion a year on lottery tickets and other state-run games. While much of this money is piled back into education, environmental protection and other programs, a disproportionate number of tickets are sold to lower-income socio-economic groups. Charles Clotfelter, a Duke University economics professor and co-author of Selling Hope: State Lotteries in America, told Bloomberg:

“You’re taking from those with few means and helping those with more means. To link that tax revenue to a benefit that goes largely to middle-and upper-class citizens is a little stunning. It’s a pro-rich wealth-redistribution technique in Georgia.”

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While Massachusetts had higher lottery spending than Georgia ($860.70 per adult), it only came second on the ‘Sucker Index’ as it had a far greater per capita income ($51,302 to Georgia’s $34,800) and also had the biggest lottery winners; Massachusetts players got back almost 72 cents on the dollar.

New York was third in the index, followed by Michigan and South Carolina. The lowest scores went to Oklahoma, Washington, South Dakota, Montana and North Dakota.

[Lottery image via Shutterstock]