Powerball and Mega Millions can finally resume their ticket sales after Illinois state lawmakers finally passed a state budget. The week-long shutdown of the two multi-state lotteries cost the state millions in lost revenue, money that could have been used to fund projects in the state.
The Democrat-controlled House voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s vetoes of the proposed $36.5 billion budget and more than $5 billion in tax hikes. However, Rep. Allen Skillicorn warned that just because the state has a budget doesn’t mean it has money.
Jayme Odom, a lottery official from the state, said on Friday that Illinois lost nearly $4 million in revenue during the ticket sales hiatus. Both lotteries have been reintroduced on Thursday following the end of the budget impasse but it is currently unclear if sales have recovered, reports Fox Illinois.
The state announced in late June that it would halt ticket sales for both multi-state lotteries after lawmakers failed to pass a state budget. Without a budget, the Illinois lottery had no authority to fund winnings even if it had money to do so. Ticket sales for both lotteries were officially halted on June 30.
The Illinois lottery itself didn’t halt ticket sales and continued operations well into July. They assured that winnings will be paid, however, those that exceeded $25,000 will be delayed.
The popular multi-state games are well-known for their headline-grabbing jackpots that often reach hundreds of millions of dollars. Both lotteries are also great cash cows for many states, contributing millions of dollars to state budgets annually.
After a budget was passed, ticket sales once again resumed. All across the state, store clerks are informing customers that the lotteries are once again open, with the lottery aiding the information campaign by putting up ads that they have returned. In addition, the Illinois lottery will no longer need to delay payments to winners of over $25,000.
Despite the considerable drop in ticket sales from the shutdown of Powerball and Mega Millions, many store owners say that the week-long hiatus won’t hurt their bottom line. Nevertheless, they admit it was a pretty significant drop, reports the Chicago Tribune.
At one store, Paul’s Pantry & Liquors in Carol Stream, lottery sales dropped from $2,400 a week to roughly $1,200 a week. The two big lotteries have a much bigger appeal to lottery players due to their bigger payout and therefore, contribute a considerable amount to the total lottery sales of most establishments.
However, the passing of the state budget is only the most recent victory in the years-long battle to keep the lottery running. In the following years, another budget debacle could occur and possibly result in another shutdown.
According to DNA Info, for the past two years, Illinois kept the lotteries going despite the lack of a budget. The state used an assortment of accounting maneuvers and temporary legislations to keep them afloat, some of them even being deemed illegal by state auditors.
However, even that wasn’t enough to keep lottery operations running smoothly. Back in 2015, the lottery gained national attention after it delayed payment on winnings, resulting in a number of lawsuits. This, in turn, hurts overall ticket sales and highlighted the problems faced by both games.
Hopefully, the state’s lawmakers learned their lesson, which cost the state millions in lost revenue. The two-year deadlock will be felt down the road as the two lotteries recuperate their sales numbers.
For now, Powerball and Mega Millions are back in business and can once again be played at over 8,000 retail outlets and mobile apps. The Illinois lottery also expressed their gratitude to their players and partners as they continue their mission to fund K-12 education in the state.
[Featured Image by G-Jun Yam/AP Images]