Casinos and lotteries are hotly debated, and their one redeeming quality that usually gets them approved is their commitment to improving lives and giving to the community. After buying a ticket, you wait to find out whether you won, but how often do you double check where that dollar, two, or twenty bucks went?
Here’s the break-down on where your money is going, and how much is going back to your community.
Illinois Lottery gives to Illinois schools
Since the inception of the Illinois Lottery in 1974, the lottery has given close to $17 billion to the state’s school budget. This seems like a massive amount of money to the average person, but in reality, that doesn’t even cover one year’s bill for the state schools. Each year it takes roughly $28 billion to operate the public schools, so the money the lottery gives is helpful, but insignificant. For the fiscal year of 2011, the Illinois Lottery only contributed $690 million. That is approximately 30 cents per dollar you spend at the lottery that is going back to the schools. Prizes take up 58 cents per dollar, and expenses take 12 cents.
Special tickets for local charities
Beyond the 30 percent that goes back to the community schools, the Illinois Lottery does occasionally sell tickets that benefit charities in Illinois. Two of these specialty tickets, Ticket for the Cure and Red Ribbon Cash, give one hundred percent of the proceeds to the charity specified. Ticket for the Cure goes to aid in research for a breast cancer cure. To date, the promotional ticket has raised $7.6 million since it began in 2006.
Red Ribbon Cash is another great ticket, and its proceeds go towards educating Illinoisans on HIV/AIDS prevention. This ticket has raised $4 million since 2008 to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.
One of the most admirable tickets the Illinois Lottery sells is the Veterans Cash. There are so many veterans that do not receive the money or benefits they deserve, and the Veterans Cash goes to give them health insurance, disability benefits, treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders, and help with housing. Since the start in 2006, this ticket has raised $10 million for the Illinois Veterans organization.
The last specialty ticket is the Mission Move. It goes to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Greater Illinois Chapter. Since 2008, $4.9 million has been given to fund research for treatment and understanding of the disease.
While these donations are not making life-changing alterations, it’s kind of nice knowing that some of your money is going to fund the community. It makes losing a little bit easier, and is a great excuse for gambling when your significant other asks where all the money is going!
Janoa Taylor is a freelance writer with a background in business and finance. She offers a unique local perspective gained from years as a Chicago resident.