Gov. Pat Quinn has been living dangerously lately.
Last week, he ate a spoonful of cinnamon. This week, he bought a $2 Powerball ticket at a Chicago liquor store.
Quinn, the governor who vetoed gambling expansion, is now encouraging Illinoisans to take a shot at the $310 million pot, “to support education and capital construction programs,” according to the Associated Press.
I can understand why Quinn prefers lotteries to casinos: they’re much more lucrative to the state.
Here’s a little chart of the percentage of the payout rate -- the percentage of betting money returned to the player -- in various forms of gambling.
BACCARAT: 98.9 percent
CRAPS: 98.6 percent
PAI GOW POKER: 98.5 percent
BLACKJACK: 98 percent
DOLLAR SLOT MACHINES: 95.9 percent
SPORTS BETTING: 90 percent
HORSE RACING: 80 percent
POWERBALL: 50 percent
That’s right, Powerball is by far the most regressive form of available, returning only half the money its players wager. A statistics professor once called Powerball “a tax on the mathematically challenged.” Really, though, it’s a tax on the poor, because Powerball offers the chance to win a lot of money with a small investment, while those other forms of gambling require a lot of money to grind out a small profit. You need thousands of dollars to survive the losing streaks in casino gambling and sports betting without tapping out. Poor people don’t have thousands of dollars set aside for gambling. But they have $2. Just as they pay higher rates for loans and mortgages, the poor also pay higher rates for gambling.
Now you know why Quinn wants you to play Powerball, instead of the slots.