There’s a sucker born every minute, and there’s a good chance he lives in Georgia, according to a recent study.
BloombergBusinessweek reports Georgians are No. 1 at being bad with money, earning the Empire State of the South the top ranking in its latest Sucker Index.
It’s our love of playing the lottery (Reminder: World record $640 million jackpot drawing tonight!) that’s set us up for ridicule.
Americans spend $50 billion a year in tickets for state-run games, which have the worst odds of any form of legal gambling, writes Bloomberg.
Georgia residents spent an average $470.73 on the lottery in 2010, or 1 percent of their personal income, while they received the sixth-highest prize payouts, 63 cents for each dollar spent, the Sucker Index shows. Only Massachusetts had higher spending, $860.70 per adult, more than three times the U.S. average. But Massachusetts players are luckier, they won back 72 cents for each dollar spent.
The article throws salt on the wounds by saying Georgia’s per capita income is about 10 percent below the U.S. average, and that lower-income residents tend to buy a disproportionate amount of tickets.
And we’re not slowing down: The $640 million frenzy prompted Georgians to buy $6.6 million in Mega Millions tickets on Thursday alone, compared to normal Mega Millions sales of around $2 million for an entire week.
How do the Sucker Index rankings work? Bloomberg took the total spent on ticket sales in each state and subtracted the amount of lottery prizes awarded. The difference was divided by the total personal income of each state’s residents.
Using that formula, the top five Sucker Index states are: Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, South Carolina.
Georgia Lottery spokeswoman Tandi Reddick said Bloomberg’s story is “demeaning” in a guest editorial appearing Sunday in the Augusta Chronicle.
Reddick said the Georgia County Guide reports that Georgia’s 10 poorest counties accounted for less than 1 percent of Georgia Lottery sales in fiscal year 2009.
That may be true, but I’d surmise the 10 poorest counties in Georgia represent less than 1 percent of Georgia’s wealth as well.
I play the lottery, and will continue to do so. It’s fun to think $1 could become $1 million overnight. If I was poor, I’d probably play more.
Hope, the emotion and the scholarship program, is a powerful thing.
Note: Updated March 30, 2012.