“Unlucky lottery winners” may sound oxymoronic, but that’s exactly the term to describe those in Illinois who have won more than $600 in lottery games. According to state lottery officials, all winnings over $600 will be delayed because of the Illinois budget impasse.
“We don’t have the legislative authority to replenish our check-writing account,” said lottery spokesman Steve Rossi.
As of October 15, the Illinois State Lottery’s account was expected to be depleted with no source of funds to replenish it until a new state budget passes, according to a written statement from lottery officials.
Fortunately, participants who win $600 or less can still get their lottery payments at retail locations.
The debacle first began back in July, when the Illinois lottery started giving out IOUs to those who had won more than $25,000. As the state budget remained in political gridlock, the funds grew smaller and smaller, until it reached the point at which the lottery couldn’t pay out any amount over $600.
“Without a budget, we can’t, by law, make any payments on an appropriated fund without a court order or consent decree or statutory continuing appropriation,” the state comptroller’s office said.
Thanks to a federal class action lawsuit, however, that court order might just be on the way. The group of winners who filed the suit against the state alleges that they’re waiting on a staggering total sum of $288 million.
With the state in its fourth month without a spending plan, the lottery hasn’t considered suspending its games. Lottery officials have said that all outstanding winnings will be paid once the state passes a budget.
“Once the budget situation is resolved, this will be resolved as well,” said Rossi.