African American that Won the Lottery

Illinois Lottery: The Poor Play More  August 15, 2013 – 08:35 am

Predominantly African American or Latino, low-income Chicago communities have generated the highest lottery sales in the state.

Predominantly black communities have generated the highest lottery sales in the state. (Photo by Louis Byrd III)

It's just minutes before the televised noon lottery drawing, and hurried, last-minute players are lining up inside 115th St. Food & Liquor on Chicago's South Side.

One of them is 60-year-old homemaker Minnie Vaughn.

"I have no strategy, " she said. "I play the same numbers every day, maybe $7 or $8 worth."

John Brown started buying lottery tickets the day he turned 18, the legal age for playing the Illinois Lottery.

"On average, I'd say [I spend] about $25 a day, " said Brown, now 36, a laid-off laborer. "But I don't mind because I know, sooner or later, I'm going to hit something."

Predominantly African American or Latino, low-income Chicago communities have generated the highest lottery sales in the state, shows an analysis of Illinois Lottery records since 1997 by The Chicago Reporter. In addition, residents in these communities spent a higher portion of their incomes on the lottery than people in more affluent areas. And despite the state's recent economic downturn, lottery spending has increased, the Reporter found.

In the South Side's 60619 ZIP code area, lottery players spent more than $23 million on lottery tickets in fiscal year 2002, more than any other ZIP code in the state, according to lottery sales records. The 60619 area includes parts of the predominantly black neighborhoods of Chatham, Avalon Park, Burnside and Calumet Heights.

Brown was among those buying tickets in the 60628 ZIP code area, which lies directly south of 60619 and ranked second among all ZIP code areas with nearly $21 million in lottery ticket sales during the past fiscal year. It includes parts of the mostly-black Pullman, Riverdale, Roseland and West Pullman communities.

"Lotteries are, in essence, a form of regressive taxation that distributes wealth and resources away from those who can least afford to pay, " said Paul Street, vice-president for research and planning at the Chicago Urban League. He said he was not surprised by the Reporter's findings. "[Lotteries] especially extract wealth from communities of color, and most particularly from African Americans."

Dennis Culloton, spokesman for Gov. George H. Ryan, disagreed.

"The charge that the lottery exists to spare taxing people of means is a spurious charge, " he said, adding that the governor "has always been concerned about the poor."

"Governor Ryan has always had concerns about the tensions between the state's budget reliance on the lottery and legalized gambling, " Culloton added.

But that reliance continues.

This year, Illinois faced a budget crisis that forced Ryan to cut state services and agency funding. And without the lottery, things could have been worse, said Illinois Lottery Director Lori Montana.

Source: www.chicagoreporter.com


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