Illinois Lottery Management Firm Costing State Millions, Critics Say

(CBS) – Illinois state government is paying tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to a company it’s been trying to cut ties with for years.

And it could cost millions more just to get rid of them, CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.

Jack Kielcynski waited weeks for his online Illinois lottery winnings.  The retired police officer finally got an e-mail explanation after CBS 2 did a story. It was a glitch in the system, he was told.

It’s among the latest red flags for Northstar, the company that manages the Illinois Lottery, despite being fired by Gov. Bruce Rauner almost two years ago.

“Northstar has run our lottery into the ground. We are the worst in the country,” says former state representative Jack Franks, now board chair in McHenry Counth.

The longtime critic of Northstar estimates the company is costing the state $1 billion yearly, by underperforming yet still drawing tens of millions in fees.

Northstar will be paid millions more just to end their contract early.

“Is it a long process that i wish were less painful? Absolutely,” says Rauner’s former lottery director, Tim McDevitt.

He says there are complicated legal and contractual issues for delaying Northstar’s departure.

He also notes it could be costly to select a new management firm that is bad.

Franks and some other lawmakers don’t buy that explanation. Some have called for an investigation.

No one from Northstar would comment for this report.

Sen. Terry Link, Franks and even Rauner’s administration believe one solution may lie with the state running the lottery, again. That would require a change in the law.

Illinois was the first of three states to hand lottery management over to a private company.

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