Lottery winners in Illinois are definitely not happy lately, but it isn’t because they’re losing. It’s because they’re winning, but they’re receiving a big ol’ I.O.U. from the Illinois Lottery because of the state’s budget problems.
According to the Chicago Sun Times and New York Daily Post, the Illinois legislature doesn’t have its budget figured out yet and is therefore unable to pay lotto winners if their prize is more than $25,000. The state’s fiscal year ended on June 30 — nearly three months ago — but Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled Illinois legislature haven’t come to an agreement on a spending plan for the current year.
Many Americans don’t realize it, but each state controls its own lottery and is responsible for paying lottery winnings; everything down to each $1 scratch-off is part of the state’s budget. When a state is unable to agree on a budget plan, like Illinois right now, residents playing the lottery in that state will find themselves in limbo should they win big.
Of course, there are plenty of other repercussions that result from a budget plan impasse. On the federal level, the government has a shutdown and the city of D.C. literally comes to a standstill.
On the state level, however, everything from transportation to college loan subsidies can be put on hold indefinitely — and yes, this includes major lottery payments.
Winning lotto tickets may not be the first priority of state politicians, but for many Illinois residents, not being able to access their money is a bit frustrating. In fact, some winners in Illinois decided to file a lawsuit against the state, as the Inquisitr reported, because the state has continued to sell lottery tickets despite being unable to pay out.
Danny Chasteen, an Oglesby resident who won $250,000 in July through the Illinois Lottery, put it quite simply: “When you buy a winning lottery ticket, you ought to get paid.”