With the announcement by Illinois lottery officials that payouts over $600 would be delayed due to the state budget impasse, the lottery ticket sales began to plummet. Ticket sales dropped to the lowest point for 2015 during the month of October due to the delay in payments announcement.
Ticket sales including Powerball and instant games decreased by around $21 million as October sales were found to be at around $215 million with September earning $236 million in sales. The highest month of the year was March, when the state brought in $260 million for the month.
For months, ticket vendors have been saying that people are frustrated with the state budget problems and have voiced their opinion on the subject. Grocery store clerks, convenience stores and gas stations have seen the decline first hand. It was in mid-October that officials of the lottery decided that anyone who wins a prize over $600 would have to wait to receive their winnings as the account that is used to pay out prizes is getting low. Back in August, it was announced that payouts of more than $25,000 were put on hold due to the fact that there was not an authority in place to cut checks that large.
The state of Illinois is now in their 5th month without a plan for the state budget as democrats in control of the legislature as well as the republican governor Bruce Rauner cannot seem to come to a cohesive decision on the subject of the budget. Rauner is using the opportunity to push anti-union reforms and pro-business solutions while the democrats state these ideas hurt the middle class and they want the governor to be in support of new tax ideas.
Lottery officials have not made a direct comment on ticket sales but they blame the democrats for the failure of the budget. Steve Rossi, a spokesman for the Lottery, stated that the issue has had a direct effect on the state lottery’s ability to pay winners as there is no legislative authority in place for the Comptroller or the lottery to be able to disburse funds. However the Illinois Lottery has faced its own troubles that can’t be blamed on either side in the Statehouse.
It is not uncommon for lottery ticket sales to fluctuate during the year, with most people purchasing tickets during large jackpots and summers are always busy. The low figures for October are stark when you consider that specialty raffle games that are only offered three times a year were factored out. Sales dropped by over 10% from just September to October with almost 40% of tickets for the Halloween Raffle game remaining unsold.
Winners have even gone so far as to sue the state in federal court, seeking payment with interest. They are also requesting that the state lottery be banned from selling tickets until they have the authority to pay.