Illinois’ Financial Problems Affect Lottery Payouts Again
It's 2015 all over again when it comes to big payouts from the Illinois Lottery, and once again it's due to our state's ongoing money troubles and lack of a budget.
The Illinois Lottery announced Tuesday that, without a budget or any special legislation, it won't be able to pay anyone winning $25,000 or more come July 1. If this scenario has a familiar ring to it, it should. Similar problems caused the same thing to happen late in 2015, which then caused a flurry of lawsuits and an estimated $70 million in lost sales. The General Assembly finally acted, by passing legislation that gave the Illinois Lottery the okay to pay out on nearly 4000 claims.
Here we go again, but this time with a small difference. If you play two of the Lottery's most popular games, Powerball and MegaMillions, unlike last time, you won't be able to buy a ticket and wait for your payout. The (multi-state) organization that runs those games have told our state to stop selling Powerball and MegaMillions tickets if the state doesn't reach a budget deal this week.
Here's what the Illinois Lottery website has to say about the current situation:
- The groups that own and operate these two popular games will not permit Illinois to sell the games without funds available to pay prizes. The Illinois Lottery must have an appropriation from the legislature to fund the prize payments, which has not yet happened.
- If the Lottery does not receive a Fiscal Year 2018 appropriation prior to June 28, Powerball sales at retail locations and online will be suspended after the draw on that day and until further notice. Similarly, after the June 30 draw, Mega Millions sales at retail locations and online will be suspended until an appropriation is received.
- When a Fiscal Year 2018 appropriation for the Illinois Lottery is passed, the Lottery will work with the Multi-State Lottery Association to determine a path for the return of Powerball sales. The timing is unknown.
- Mega Millions and Powerball tickets purchased outside of Illinois must be claimed in the state they were purchased.
- All valid winning tickets can be claimed and paid in full until June 30, 2017. If the Illinois legislature does not approve a Fiscal Year 2018 budget appropriation for the Illinois Lottery by July 1, all prizes $25,000 and under can be paid at Illinois Lottery claim centers, until further notice. Prizes $600 and under will continue to be paid by any of the Illinois Lottery retailers statewide.
- All active subscriptions for Powerball and Mega Millions will be cancelled after the last draw on June 28 (Powerball) and June 30 (Mega Millions). The Lottery will issue refunds to players for the remaining length of their subscription.
- No other Illinois Lottery games will be suspended.