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Illinois Lottery not paying big winners because state legislature won't pass budget

Illinois LotteryIllinois Lottery: Illinois Lottery not paying big winners because state legislature won't pass budget
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After years of struggling financially, Susan Rick thought things were looking up when her boyfriend won $250,000 from the Illinois Lottery last month. She could stop working seven days a week, maybe fix up the house and take a trip to Minnesota to visit her daughter.

But because Illinois lawmakers have not passed a budget, she and her boyfriend, Danny Chasteen, got an IOU from the lottery instead.

"For the first time, we were finally gonna get a break," said Rick, who lives in Oglesby. "And now the Illinois Lottery has kind of messed everything up."

Under state law, the state comptroller must cut the checks for lottery winnings of more than $25,000. And lottery officials said that because lawmakers have yet to pass a budget, the comptroller's office does not have legal authority to release the funds.

Prizes of $25,000 or less will still be paid at lottery claim centers across the state, and people who win $600 or less can cash in their ticket at the place where they bought it.

But the bigger winners? Out of luck, for now.

While lottery officials could not immediately say how many winners' payments were delayed or provide the total amount of those payoffs, the agency's website lists multiple press releases for winners since the current fiscal year began July 1. Including Chasteen, those winners represent millions of dollars in prizes.

"The lottery is a state agency like many others, and we're obviously affected by the budget situation," Illinois Lottery spokesman Steve Rossi said. "Since the legal authority is not there for the comptroller to disburse payments, those payments are delayed."

While Rossi said winners will eventually receive their money once a budget is in place, the promise is cold comfort for Rick.

"You know what's funny? If we owed the state money, they'd come take it and they don't care whether we have a roof over our head," Rick said. "Our budget wouldn't be a factor. You can't say (to the state), 'Can you wait until I get my budget under control?' "

Rick, 48, and Chasteen, 56, were expecting the money to come this week after he turned in his winning ticket July 20 to the lottery claim center in Rockford. Instead, they got a phone call this week from lottery officials saying the payment would be delayed because of the budget impasse.

"I was kind of in shock," Chasteen said. "I called them back the next day (and) said, 'Why am I not getting my money?' ... I think it's all wrong they're doing it this way. They should pay the money we're owed."

Rick said she also spoke with another lottery official, who tried to reassure her that the couple would get their money as soon as lawmakers pass a budget.

"And he tries to tell me it could be any day now," she said. "So I went online, and every article I read says they're not even close (to passing a budget). So don't give me that line. It could be months. You're collecting interest on our money that we should be collecting."

Rossi would not speculate on what effect the delays might have on the lottery's revenues if people choose to stop playing until the state resolves the budget crisis, and he was not aware of any effort to pass a special measure to allow the comptroller to pay out winnings while lawmakers and the governor haggle over the budget.

State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, has been a frequent critic of the state's handling of the lottery and said this is just another example.

"I sort of like the business model, because if we take the money in and never have to pay, how do we lose?" Franks said sarcastically.

"Our government is committing a fraud on the taxpayers, because we're holding ourselves out as selling a good, and we're not — we're not selling anything," Franks said. "The lottery is a contract: I pay my money, and if I win, you're obligated to pay me and you have to pay me timely. It doesn't say if you have money or when you have money."

Longtime lottery and gaming consultant Matthew Smith said Illinois lawmakers and lottery officials should have found a way to ensure winners were promptly paid regardless of whether there was a budget in place because failing to do so risks destroying consumer trust in the lottery.

"Any other brand that would come back and say, 'Well, we promised we would have this product, this service, and you will get it but we just can't tell you when' — any other brand that would do that to you, you would never use again," said Smith, vice chairman of Shapiro+Raj. "Is it going to affect their play? I think in the short term, if the state is able to find a way to get (winners) paid and paid quickly, and kind of puts this aside as a glitch, they can probably save things."

But if the delays stretch on indefinitely, Smith said, word will spread — especially if it affects people who play regularly.

"If that news just continues to go viral, and it goes back to their neighborhoods and people are talking about it, I think it could have an impact," Smith said. "And even if it affects sales by a percent or two, that's bad for the lottery."

Rick said she and Chasteen had to cancel their trip to see her daughter, which they planned to pay for out of Chasteen's lottery winnings. She said delays in payment will only discourage people from playing because it will seem like false hope that they will win.

"Who do you think buys lottery tickets most of the time?" Rick said. "Not millionaires. People who don't have a lot of money. You're messing with all those dreams."

Thanks to goodlukman for the tip.

Chicago Tribune

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62 comments. Last comment 1 year ago by DELotteryPlyr.
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Avatar
Vinton va
United States
Member #158491
August 24, 2014
648 Posts
Offline
Posted: August 28, 2015, 4:57 pm - IP Logged

That's awful I would be upset the lottery has lots of money it's just the vp want to have more to spend on luxury

    MillionsWanted's avatar - 24Qa6LT

    Norway
    Member #9517
    December 10, 2004
    1272 Posts
    Online
    Posted: August 28, 2015, 5:05 pm - IP Logged

    That's ridiculous. Shouldn't the lottery have its own budget which includes lottery payouts.

    Strange that they have to take the money from the state budget directly.

    This lottery will probably go bankrupt.

      MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
      Beautiful Florida
      United States
      Member #5709
      July 18, 2004
      20119 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: August 28, 2015, 5:25 pm - IP Logged

      Why would Lottery Funds be tied into the States budget? Are  they robbing Peter to pay Paul?

      I've always thought The Lottery is a separate entity.

                                                   

                                                     "  When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty "

        Bondi Junction
        Australia
        Member #57242
        December 24, 2007
        1102 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: August 28, 2015, 6:29 pm - IP Logged

        After years of struggling financially, Susan Rick thought things were looking up when her boyfriend won $250,000 from the Illinois Lottery last month. She could stop working seven days a week, maybe fix up the house and take a trip to Minnesota to visit her daughter.

        But because Illinois lawmakers have not passed a budget, she and her boyfriend, Danny Chasteen, got an IOU from the lottery instead.

        "For the first time, we were finally gonna get a break," said Rick, who lives in Oglesby. "And now the Illinois Lottery has kind of messed everything up."

        Under state law, the state comptroller must cut the checks for lottery winnings of more than $25,000. And lottery officials said that because lawmakers have yet to pass a budget, the comptroller's office does not have legal authority to release the funds.

        Prizes of $25,000 or less will still be paid at lottery claim centers across the state, and people who win $600 or less can cash in their ticket at the place where they bought it.

        But the bigger winners? Out of luck, for now.

        While lottery officials could not immediately say how many winners' payments were delayed or provide the total amount of those payoffs, the agency's website lists multiple press releases for winners since the current fiscal year began July 1. Including Chasteen, those winners represent millions of dollars in prizes.

        "The lottery is a state agency like many others, and we're obviously affected by the budget situation," Illinois Lottery spokesman Steve Rossi said. "Since the legal authority is not there for the comptroller to disburse payments, those payments are delayed."

        While Rossi said winners will eventually receive their money once a budget is in place, the promise is cold comfort for Rick.

        "You know what's funny? If we owed the state money, they'd come take it and they don't care whether we have a roof over our head," Rick said. "Our budget wouldn't be a factor. You can't say (to the state), 'Can you wait until I get my budget under control?' "

        Rick, 48, and Chasteen, 56, were expecting the money to come this week after he turned in his winning ticket July 20 to the lottery claim center in Rockford. Instead, they got a phone call this week from lottery officials saying the payment would be delayed because of the budget impasse.

        "I was kind of in shock," Chasteen said. "I called them back the next day (and) said, 'Why am I not getting my money?' ... I think it's all wrong they're doing it this way. They should pay the money we're owed."

        Rick said she also spoke with another lottery official, who tried to reassure her that the couple would get their money as soon as lawmakers pass a budget.

        "And he tries to tell me it could be any day now," she said. "So I went online, and every article I read says they're not even close (to passing a budget). So don't give me that line. It could be months. You're collecting interest on our money that we should be collecting."

        Rossi would not speculate on what effect the delays might have on the lottery's revenues if people choose to stop playing until the state resolves the budget crisis, and he was not aware of any effort to pass a special measure to allow the comptroller to pay out winnings while lawmakers and the governor haggle over the budget.

        State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, has been a frequent critic of the state's handling of the lottery and said this is just another example.

        "I sort of like the business model, because if we take the money in and never have to pay, how do we lose?" Franks said sarcastically.

        "Our government is committing a fraud on the taxpayers, because we're holding ourselves out as selling a good, and we're not — we're not selling anything," Franks said. "The lottery is a contract: I pay my money, and if I win, you're obligated to pay me and you have to pay me timely. It doesn't say if you have money or when you have money."

        Longtime lottery and gaming consultant Matthew Smith said Illinois lawmakers and lottery officials should have found a way to ensure winners were promptly paid regardless of whether there was a budget in place because failing to do so risks destroying consumer trust in the lottery.

        "Any other brand that would come back and say, 'Well, we promised we would have this product, this service, and you will get it but we just can't tell you when' — any other brand that would do that to you, you would never use again," said Smith, vice chairman of Shapiro+Raj. "Is it going to affect their play? I think in the short term, if the state is able to find a way to get (winners) paid and paid quickly, and kind of puts this aside as a glitch, they can probably save things."

        But if the delays stretch on indefinitely, Smith said, word will spread — especially if it affects people who play regularly.

        "If that news just continues to go viral, and it goes back to their neighborhoods and people are talking about it, I think it could have an impact," Smith said. "And even if it affects sales by a percent or two, that's bad for the lottery."

        Rick said she and Chasteen had to cancel their trip to see her daughter, which they planned to pay for out of Chasteen's lottery winnings. She said delays in payment will only discourage people from playing because it will seem like false hope that they will win.

        "Who do you think buys lottery tickets most of the time?" Rick said. "Not millionaires. People who don't have a lot of money. You're messing with all those dreams."

        Thanks to goodlukman for the tip.

        When they do get payment, will they get paid interest?

        We all get a lot out of lotteries!

          Romancandle's avatar - moon
          Upacreek
          United States
          Member #136306
          December 8, 2012
          428 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: August 28, 2015, 7:44 pm - IP Logged

          Why would Lottery Funds be tied into the States budget? Are  they robbing Peter to pay Paul?

          I've always thought The Lottery is a separate entity.

          Common School Fund... All profits deposited there for payment.  So no budget... No plan... No payments...

          B.S.

          shame on IL

          -RC

            Avatar
            Wyomissing, PA
            United States
            Member #161050
            November 15, 2014
            301 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: August 28, 2015, 8:18 pm - IP Logged

            When they do get payment, will they get paid interest?

            Probably not. Unless Illinois has a statutory interest rate for delayed payments, then the winner could potentially pocket an extra few hundred to upwards of $1K per month.

            However, if calculated at a typical banking interest rate, the extra amount will amount to very little, if anything. Some banks charge commercial account holders with large balances an extra fee - in effect, a negative interest rate.

            A work-around for IL players is sticking with low domination games, in particular, 3 and 4 digit number games. Some players seek out games with low payouts (under $600) to avoid claim issues.

              Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
              Zeta Reticuli Star System
              United States
              Member #30470
              January 17, 2006
              10353 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: August 28, 2015, 8:35 pm - IP Logged

              Anyone still think the lottery money goes into education?

              The money goes in there at one end and an equal or greater amount is taken out t the other.

              The non-payment situation should suspend the lottery until the budget is passed.

              Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

              Lep

              There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                Avatar
                casper wyoming
                United States
                Member #136345
                December 9, 2012
                39 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: August 28, 2015, 9:27 pm - IP Logged

                This is not going to work out for the lottery. I can see them not passing a budget until after the last day to claim the ticket has passed. I can see it now the winners try to cash the ticket only to be told the ticket can not be claimed as it is passed the claim date. Who the hell puts the lottery budget in the state budget? How can you run out of money in a lottery?

                  sully16's avatar - sharan
                  Ringleader
                  Michigan
                  United States
                  Member #81740
                  October 28, 2009
                  40550 Posts
                  Online
                  Posted: August 28, 2015, 10:00 pm - IP Logged

                  Dirty rotten way to conduct the Lottery.

                  Did you exchange a walk on part in the war ?

                  For a lead role in a cage?

                   

                                                              From Pink Floyd's " Wish you were here"

                    Avatar
                    Albuquerque
                    United States
                    Member #128941
                    June 5, 2012
                    19 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: August 28, 2015, 10:15 pm - IP Logged

                    Next time my property taxes are due I will just slip in a nice little note saying that I can't pay yet because I have not finalized my yearly budget.

                      butch2030's avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
                      The KEY ingredient is Combos & Patterns
                      Elgin, IL
                      United States
                      Member #68867
                      January 1, 2009
                      1221 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: August 28, 2015, 10:48 pm - IP Logged

                      If the state is doing this, I feel that the winners are entitled to interest on the money that is being held until the budget is passed & funds are finally released. Plus a penalty on top of the interest.  What would the state do if I didn't pay my taxes on time?  What is good for the goose is good for the gander.  What if all the players in the State of ILL stop playing the Lottery until the State budget is passed?  I wonder if they are holding up payroll for the State House & Senate until the budget is passed????????????  How an amendment to the State Constitution that all Lottery Winners be paid no matter what circumstances.............

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                        Franklin-n.c
                        United States
                        Member #37194
                        April 12, 2006
                        36 Posts
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                        Posted: August 28, 2015, 10:57 pm - IP Logged

                        And I thought NC was a screwed up state Hey but our State Troopers get new cars all the time they got money for that but not for Schools

                          Funtimz's avatar - Lottery-022.jpg

                          United States
                          Member #165244
                          March 30, 2015
                          228 Posts
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                          Posted: August 28, 2015, 11:02 pm - IP Logged

                          Another example where politicians don't care.

                          Take Risks: If you win, you'll be happy.  If you lose, you will be wiser...

                            mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash
                            JACKPOT HUNTER

                            United States
                            Member #141034
                            April 2, 2013
                            1408 Posts
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                            Posted: August 29, 2015, 12:16 am - IP Logged

                            Illinois + politics = Crooked outcomes.

                            Seek and ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

                            Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****