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Illinois Powerball, Mega Millions Suspended – as Threatened

Image: Illinois Powerball, Mega Millions Suspended – as Threatened
(AP Photo/G-Jun Yam)

By    |   Thursday, 29 Jun 2017 06:47 AM

Illinois Powerball and Mega Millions lottery games have been suspended because of the state's budget crisis. The cutoff was threatened weeks ago by the multi-state lottery agency but state lawmakers and the governor didn’t listen.

Now the lawmakers will try to hammer out a budget or a deal with the state lottery during a special session so appropriations to pay the lottery agency can be made, according to WGN-TV.

The Chicago Tribune reported that as of 9 p.m. Wednesday the Illinois Lottery stopped selling Powerball tickets, and by 9:45 p.m. Friday it will stop selling Mega Millions tickets — until lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner finalize at least an agreement to let lottery payouts go forward.

Illinois' annual profits from Powerball and Mega Millions have historically hovered about $90 million.

"The lottery is a goose that lays golden eggs, and we're screwing around with it, and we have a simple answer," Republican State Rep. Davis Harris told the Tribune, calling the lottery crisis "the height of political stupidity."

In 2015, a similar state budget crisis caused nearly 3,900 lottery payouts totaling more than $112 million to be delayed, reported NBC News. The lottery charged at the time that it lost up to $71.5 million in revenues.

Revenues aside, lawmakers have to contend with unhappy voters who will go without Powerball and Mega Millions tickets unless they go to another state to buy them.

Greg Smith, the acting lottery director, told state legislators that all they need to do is authorize legislation to ensure lottery winners get paid to allow the games to keep running there, according to the Tribune.

Smith told a House revenue hearing Wednesday that Powerball sales have already dropped about 10 percent this week because of the cutoff news.

State Senate Democrats blamed the House and Rauner for the crisis, claiming they have done their job in passing a budget.

"It's not just the lottery that's struggling because there's no budget. Domestic violence shelters, services for seniors, our public universities and community colleges and the list, unfortunately, goes on and on," said Senate Democratic spokesman John Patterson. "Hundreds of people have lost their jobs. Thousands have lost needed services. It goes far beyond the lottery."

The Illinois Lottery said players with winning tickets should not delay in claiming their current prizes. It said valid claims of more than $25,000 will experience a delay in payments due to the state comptroller's inability to make payments on behalf of the lottery without the state appropriation.

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Illinois Powerball and Mega Millions lottery games have been suspended because of the state's budget crisis. The cutoff was threatened weeks ago by the multi-state lottery agency but state lawmakers and the governor didn’t listen.
illinois, powerball, mega millions, suspended
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2017-47-29
Thursday, 29 Jun 2017 06:47 AM
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