As a recent transplant to Pittsburgh, I’ve been going through the usual adjustment to curious local customs (ie: funny liquor laws; most businesses being closed on Sunday; etc.). While watching TV the other day, I was barraged with a stream of commercials for the Pennsylvania State Lottery, which benefits “older Pennsylvanians.”
I was aware that states use lotteries to shore up funding in various categories—I knew that Colorado, for example, funds environmental projects—but I had never heard of a lottery benefiting the elderly. So, I started looking around and compiling a list of all the lottery beneficiaries.
Turns out that Pennsylvania is unique—it’s the only state that benefits the elderly. Education is by far the most popular recipient for the funds, followed by state’s general funds. In addition to the unique categories for PA and Colorado, there are a few other unusual ones: Wyoming and Massachusetts give the money to cities/towns, Wisconsin to property tax credits, and Kansas to economic development. A handful of states, of course, don’t have any lotteries.
Anyway: Above is the map I put together displaying where all that state lottery money goes. (Click here for a larger image). Special thanks to Flowing Data’s tutorial on creating a vector file map with Python and BeautifulSoup. A fun, cool way to wade into building data visualizations with code.
One note: Some states give to several different types of programs; in that case, I only listed the program receiving the most money. Or, in case of a tie, like education/infrastructure, I listed both.