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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I could blog about something important

Like the state budget's being passed by the legislature under the threat of J-Dizzle's veto.

Instead, let's talk about how the lottery is racist:
Nearly one-third of all state lottery tickets sold in southeastern Wisconsin last year were sold in poor neighborhoods, and players in these areas hoping to strike it rich have not seen as many big payoffs as the rest of the region, a Journal Sentinel analysis shows. [. . .]

[Some poor lootery loser] lives in the 53210 ZIP code, where, according to U.S. Census data, almost 25% of residents live below the poverty level. In that area, a total of $3.3 million worth of lottery tickets were sold during the 2003-'04 fiscal year.

Yet, residents of that area won only about $145,000 in prizes of more than $600 each. That's about 4 cents for every $1 spent in lottery tickets. Only prizes greater than $599 are tracked by the lottery by winner because those winning tickets must be taken to a state lottery validation center to be cashed.

Most other high-poverty areas of southeastern Wisconsin had similar ratios of lottery sales to winnings. [. . .] Overall, in 18 ZIP code areas of southeastern Wisconsin with the poverty rates of 10% or more, a total of $54.8 million worth of lottery tickets were sold. That's 32% of total sales in the entire region of $171 million during 2003-'04. Lottery sales statewide that year totaled $483 million. The statewide poverty rate was 8.7% in 2000.

In those higher-poverty ZIP codes, the return in big payouts of residents' ticket purchases was about 6 cents on the dollar (though a couple of ZIP codes had much higher winning rates - in 53212, with a 36% poverty rate, it was 22 cents on the dollar, for example). [. . .] And in wealthiest ZIP codes areas in southeastern Wisconsin, the proportion of winnings to tickets sold is more than double that of the poorest areas. [. . .]

For example, in the 53045 ZIP code in Brookfield, where the median household income is about $85,000, there were $1.2 million worth of lottery tickets sold in 2003-'04. Residents of that ZIP code won more than $520,000, about 45 cents for every dollar spent on tickets.
Okay, so the article says that the lottery is classist, but when we talk about poor Milwaukee and wealthy suburbs, we know we're really talking about race, aren't we?

Clearly, it's time for the legislature to take care of this issue. It's at least as important as, say, banning gay marriage, right?

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