Winners in Illinois remain stranded in lottery limbo as the state still hasn’t passed a new fiscal budget after the last one lapsed in July. Without a budget on the books the state is unable to legally pay many of its obligations, including lottery winnings. The number of winners continues to climb and with it the $6 billion worth of IOUs the state already owes, according to Bloomberg.com.
Danny Chasteen is one of the biggest winners waiting on his new-found wealth. He won $250,000 on a scratch-off ticket in July but has yet to see any of it. He’s one of many who have taken to legal action and is suing the state of Illinois over the matter.
“People are spending thousands of dollars a day on lottery tickets, and they don’t get paid?” said Chasteen’s girlfriend, Susan Rick. “That’s illegal, and that’s fraud.”
Lucky lotto winners aren’t the only ones affected by the budget delays either. Almost 150,000 current, retired, and contracted public employees, led by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, are also suing to have their healthcare payments un-suspended.
While the amount of lottery payments varies among the 25+ winners so far, the cessation only applies to those over $25,000. What should be a time of celebration and relaxation has turned into a stress-filled, uncertain waiting game.
Chasteen, for example, was thinking about quitting his job as a factory supervisor. Another winner of $50,000, Rhonda Rasche, had plans to take a friend and her sister on a vacation after the recent death of their mother. Helen Whitfield won $400,000 and already has her boxes packed to move her family to Florida once she gets the money she’s owed, according to Today.com.
“We’re not going to be able to enjoy it as old as we are if we don’t get it,” Whitfield said.
Unless it’s possible for a private company steps in and purchase these deferred lottery winnings, the people are left to wait until the state legislature passes a new budget, which could be anytime between now and the end of time.