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The Illinois lottery has taught us one thing, that hope may make us feel good and excited, but it doesn’t always pay the bills. In fact, some baby boomers and seniors see the lottery as a retirement strategy and that is a big mistake. The only thing the lottery teaches the vast majority of people is that “losing” is the new “winning” and that’s not good
By Ray Hanania
Illinois finances are a mess, but so are the finances of the City of Chicago where Mayor Rahm Emanuel bit the bullet and proposed making Chicagoans pay for their own mistakes.
As a suburbanite, that’s great for me.
Suburbs like Orland Park have good finances, as do most of the nearby suburban communities and too often Chicago tries to get our money to cover their mistakes.
That’s why I am not pouting about the bumps at the Illinois Lottery, where hope springs eternal for taxpayers, and baby boomers, making disappointment an acceptable way of life.
I noticed the other day that so many Seniors were standing in line at the 7-Eleven. At first, I thought it was a rush on Diet Coke. I was about to tell them that they can save money and get better deals buying Diet Coke and other things at Speedway, and to avoid 7-Eleven. But then I realized they weren’t in line to buy the unhealthy price-gouged food items.
They were clamoring for the Illinois Lottery.
Literally, one Baby Boomer was scratching off the numbers on a $5 lottery game ticket using a Buffalo Nickel.
That’s hard core.
Sadly, for many Seniors and Baby Boomers, their retirement plans includes about 50 percent of hope that they will win the lottery.
That ain’t gonna happen, folks.
For 99 percent of the people who toss their hard earned paychecks and pensions into lottery tickets, the lottery is a dark abyss of misfortune.
Sure, you might win a few bucks here and there. You might even win $100 or even $1,000. And that feels good. But when you average out all the cash you have dumped into that ugly you-know-what, you realize you haven’t won. You’ve lost.
That’s why I’m not crying about the state eliminating the evening Lottery Drawing Broadcast that was as popular on WGN in the evenings as Bozo’s Circus once was in the morning and during lunch.
Illinois has been paying the pal or crony or wife of some politically connected pal to staff the Lottery for years. WGN started broadcasting the lottery picks since 1975, was carried by other TV stations later, but ran exclusively on WGN for the last 21 years.
The most recent hand reaching into the broken dreams of millions of Illinois residents to pull out the colored Ping Pong balls with fake smiles was that of Missouri pageant beauty, Linda Kollmeyer, since 1989. She always offered witty promises of riches during the 12 seconds it took between each number called.
Yes, the public knows the precise time it takes to draw an Illinois Lottery Ping Pong Ball. But what about the odds if winning?
The odds of winning the first prize jackpot are one in 20,358,520 (at 2 plays for $1), which are not terrible odds. Compare that to the jackpot odds of one in 175 million of winning the Powerball lottery or one in 259 millions of winning the Mega Millions game!
The odds are better for smaller wins, but for most people, winning comes after along stretch of losing.
No, winning one jackpot is losing for the vast majority of people when you put the money you’ve won against the money you’ve spent. If you kept the $10 you spent a week on the Illinois Lottery for the past 40 years (and $10 a week is a low number for many), you could have saved $20,800.
The Illinois Lottery may not make you rich, but it will convince you that “losing” is the new “normal.”
(Columnist Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at email@example.com.)
This post has already been read 1855 times!
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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