Illinois Lottery Can’t Pay Off Big Winners But It Is Still Selling Tickets

"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," Danny Chasten’s girlfriend, Susan Rick, told reporters at a press conference to announce the lawsuit. "Our budget wouldn't be a factor. You can't say (to the state), 'Can you wait until I get my budget under control?'"

Chasten, Rasche, and the other Illinois Lottery winners — we don’t know how many; Lottery officials won’t comment on that — waiting for their checks are in the unlucky 10 percent of those waiting for the state to pay its bills.

Ninety percent of all state government expenses are being paid, thanks to individual pieces of legislation and court orders — including the salaries of those working inside the Illinois Lottery and the private company that manages it.

Illinois Rep. Jack Franks (D) doesn’t think that’s fair. He wants to force the issue.

He understands the Illinois Lottery actually has the money to pay off winners, but without a budget, doesn’t have the authority to write the checks.

As far as Franks is concerned, that is a bureaucratic problem that should be easy to solve.

The Democrat told National Public Radio he’s getting ready to introduce legislation to force payment of all lottery winnings, despite the budget impasse.

“I don't think this can wait 'cause this is a very, very important asset of the state which generates almost a billion dollars in revenue a year for the state,” Franks said. “And it could dry up overnight if people lose confidence.”

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