Mega Millions Jackpot: Are Illinois Residents Suckers?

Illinois residents spend about $2.19 billion annually on lottery tickets.

More than half a billion dollars is up for grabs in Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot. At $640 million and counting, it’s the largest lottery prize in history.

Undoubtedly, more people than normal will buy tickets for such an unusually large jackpot. But in a typical year, Illinois residents are pretty moderate when it comes to hedging their bets on the lottery — ranking only 20th out of 43 states on Bloomberg's recent "Sucker Index." 

Illinois adults spent more than $2.19 billion on lottery tickets in 2010, according to the survey. But while the lottery odds aren’t good for anyone, Illinois players do get a modest bang for their buck.

In 2010, people in Illinois who bought lottery tickets collectively won about $1.31 billion — a 59.9 percent return on their investment. That puts the state pretty much square in the middle nationally when it comes to the amount of money residents win vs. how much they spend. Illinois ranks 22 out of the 43 states that sell lottery tickets in terms of prize payback, the Bloomberg report said.

If you break it down on an individual level, Illinois adults each spent nearly $226 in 2010 on lottery tickets, or about 0.4 percent of their income, according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg calculated the sucker part of its rankings by dividing the amount of money "lost" (i.e. what was spent but not returned via winnings) by the total personal income in Illinois.

Illinois spent $878.2 million more on lottery tickets than it won in 2010, and its net personal income was about $544.9 billion. That gave the state a 16.1 on the sucker index.

The biggest suckers live in Georgia, according to the index. The state got a score of 37. The wisest lottery players? They live in North Dakota, which scored only 4.

While the chances of winning the big jackpot are slim, if you buy your tickets in Darien, maybe, just maybe, the odds might be a little bit better: Two tickets with major cash attached were purchased in town during the past 14 months.

In January 2011, the at 402 Plainfield Rd. sold a ticket worth . Then in May, sold a winning ticket for a . 

May the odds be ever in Darien’s favor.


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