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Online Lottery Sales Falling Short As Big Powerball Drawing Approaches

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The Powerball jackpot is up to $320 million. (Credit: CBS)

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Updated 08/15/12 – 9:37 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Lottery vendors are busy as players snap up tickets for the $337 million Powerball drawing Wednesday night, while officials say online lottery ticket sales have been falling short of expectations.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, sales have been brisk Wednesday at lottery machines, but Illinois Lottery Director Michael Jones said online sales have fallen short of projections ever since they began last March.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports


“We still do $60-70,000 a week in sales over the Internet but, our research suggested that between 600,000 and a million people would begin playing the lottery when the prize was $100 million or more,” Jones said.

Jones says the problem is a website that is not especially user-friendly.

“It’s not particularly conducive to people playing. They found it difficult to register and they minded giving out so much information,” Jones said. “So we’re completely revamping that and we will be re-introducing a much more user-friendly interface.”

In March, Illinois was the first state in the nation to offer individual lottery tickets online. The program to sell the tickets online went ahead over the objections of owners of 7-Eleven franchises, who warned of massive layoffs that could come as a result of online lottery sales.

Others have expressed concern about privacy on the Web site. Signing up to play the Lottery online requires users to provide their date of birth, phone number and Social Security number.

The Lottery hopes to have the Web site upgrade completed within a month.

Meanwhile, the $337 million Powerball jackpot now being offered is among the largest in Powerball history.

But winning isn’t everything. In fact, as CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, the big money prize can bring big frustrations.

In Chicago Heights, there are six people claiming they were wrongfully excluded from a $118 million Mega Millions jackpot earlier this year. Now a judge has the task of sorting out everyone’s rights.

Michael LaMonica, an attorney for two co-workers at Pita Pan Old World Bakery in Chicago Heights, said his clients deserve a share of the $118 million winnings from the May 4 Mega Millions drawing, because they were regularly part of a work lottery pool.

“The law, as we see it in Illinois, is that when you play the lottery, you’re part of a joint venture, unless there’s something in writing specifying something otherwise from the outset,” LaMonica said.

Earlier this year, a group of co-workers at Pita Pan won $9, and those winnings rolled over for the next pool, which turned out to be the winning $118 million ticket.

But LaMonica’s clients didn’t contribute any extra money to the $9.00 already in the pot, so their co-workers said they shouldn’t get any of the money.

LaMonica said, when pooling money for a lottery, players should put something down in writing about who contributed money to the tickets, and should get a share of any winnings.

“It’s simple, it takes a couple minutes, and it avoids a lot of problems,” he said.

At Emporium Liquors in Chicago Heights, players were thinking all of their problems would go away with a $320 million dollar Power Ball jackpot win on Wednesday.

Roman Herrera said, “I hope I can win, and share with my family, and enjoy.”

Tetika Woods said, “I’m gonna win, and I’m gonna retire when I win too.”

Board certified clinical psychologist Dr. Daniela Schreier said those who win need to avoid making huge changes to their lifestyle.

“We have to be really moderate and step back. The emotional spending will kill us,” she said.

Schreier also said you should get a financial advisor so you’ll be secure down the road. She said statistics show most lottery winners end up in bankruptcy within two years.

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