Editorials

When Illinois turns you into a chump chasing chump change

In 2009, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn turned over management of the state lottery to a private firm. The Chicago Tribune analyzed the company’s scratch-off games and found 40 percent of the big prizes were never awarded because the games were ended early.
In 2009, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn turned over management of the state lottery to a private firm. The Chicago Tribune analyzed the company’s scratch-off games and found 40 percent of the big prizes were never awarded because the games were ended early. AP

It is not much fun to be deceived but if you are trusting the guy with the slicked-back hair and pencil mustache dealing three-card Monte on the street corner, well then you kind of get what you deserve.

It is another matter when the card sharp is your own state.

Illinois Lottery officials abdicated responsibility for the state’s scratch-off games to Northstar Lottery Group, which decided to end games well before all the tickets had been sold. That also was before many of the big prizes had been awarded.

The company was doing that so often that about 40 percent of the big prizes were never awarded, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis. One game cost $30 per ticket, promised two grand prizes of $46 million each and was ended before either prize was awarded.

Cha-ching for the company. Wah-whaa for the gamblers. For shame on the state’s nonexistent oversight.

But if you’ve been paying attention, you were warned.

Taxpayers know the state has used the lottery as a shell game for decades, promising it as a way to fund education, when in reality it gives small returns of 24 cents on every dollar gambled; and rather than giving additional money to education, it has replaced money that state lawmakers no longer feel responsibility to provide.

Missouri, with all those ads about feeling good because you losing gamblers are helping the kids, also returns about a quarter on the dollar for education.

Gamblers know the odds favor the house. They know games can be rigged.

Now there’s more proof that Casino Illinois makes false promises based on your hope, greed and gullibility.

Lucky you.

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