Understanding the Illinois Sales Suspension of Mega Millions and Powerball Lottery TicketsPublished July 4, 2017 by Elana K
Residents of Illinois will no longer be able to purchase Mega Millions and Powerball lottery tickets within state borders, due to the General Assembly's failure to pass a balanced budget by July 1.
Residents of Illinois will no longer be able to purchase Mega Millions and Powerball lottery tickets within state borders, due to the General Assembly's failure to pass a balanced budget by July 1. This means that not only have lottery ticket sales been suspended since Friday, but recent big winners will not receive their winnings any time soon.
Illinois Budget Problems
Although Powerball and Mega Millions are multi-state games, the association requires that participating states have the budget to pay out large prizes. As of now, Illinois is facing $14 billion in unpaid bills, so paying large cash prizes is out of the question.
Illinois Lottery Acting Director Greg Smith wrote in a press release, "Players should be confident knowing the Illinois Lottery has the money to pay these winning claims...That means the General Assembly needs to approve a truly balanced budget that includes Lottery funding in order to ensure all prize payments occur."
Is Suspension the Answer?
While the suspension of Mega Millions and Powerball sales occurred because of the state’s budget crisis, blocking sales could actually hurt one of the main sources of the state’s revenue. WGN reported that the two lottery games have provided Illinois public schools with $92 billion in revenue. With lottery sales suspended, the state will be hard-pressed to find another significant source of income, even temporarily.
Scratch-offs and other games are still being sold in Illinois, and any players who win under $25,000 will still be able to claim their cash prize.
Illinois’ Loss, Wisconsin’s Gain
On the positive side, lottery sales in Wisconsin have been on the rise since the weekend. Gas station workers along the border between Wisconsin and Illinois have already reported sizeable increases in lottery sales over the past few weeks, and hundreds of more sales over the weekend.