CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois Lottery players who buy tickets for Powerball and Mega Millions could soon have to cross state lines for a chance at those huge jackpots, because the state might be dropped from the games thanks to the state’s ongoing budget impasse.
Acting Illinois Lottery Director Greg Smith confirmed the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball and Mega Millions, plans to drop Illinois from the roster of states if there’s no state budget agreement by the end of the month. The games would still be available in every neighboring state — Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Kentucky.
Smith said it’s disappointing that the Illinois General Assembly’s inability to pass a budget for nearly two years has led to this development. He said that’s why it’s so critical for lawmakers to deliver a balanced budget that the Governor can sign.
Illinois Powerball and Mega Million winners add an average of $300 million a year to the state’s budget, but civic leaders say we may lose the popular games because the lottery association is afraid Illinois won’t pay future winners.
“Then the other states would be on the hook or that they would be responsible for making good on that or that it would damage reputation of Powerball and Mega Millions,” said Laurence Msall, The Civic Federation.
CBS: What’s the impact of losing that amount of money?
“That’s money that won’t be available for helping schools,” Msall said.
State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) also said he’s frustrated with the decision.
“It’s going to hurt our Lottery revenue in the state of Illinois, because we can’t participate in that. So that’s going to hurt the education funding,” he said.
Ford hoped, by calling a 10-day special session starting next week, Gov. Bruce Rauner is prepared to compromise on the budget.
State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) called the Illinois Lottery essential for state funding, and said this latest turn just adds to the list for the troubled agency.
“There were already problems at the Lottery, and now you add the potential of us not participating in Power Ball. It’s an absolute fiasco,” he said.
Figures for 2016 show $99 million in Mega Millions sales and $208 million in Powerball sales in Illinois. About 40 percent of each comes back to Illinois in revenue.
The state is on the verge of starting its third fiscal year without a full balanced budget, if the Governor and lawmakers can’t agree on a spending plan by July 1.
The loss of the ticket sales will also impact store owners, because lottery buyers also shop.
“I would estimate on average Powerball and Mega Millions brings in $25,000 to $30,000 a year on average,” said Jigar Shah. “That would possibly lead smaller ones to go out of business.”
Officials say Powerball would be suspended after the June 28 drawing and Mega Millions after the June 30 drawing.