Illinois Stops Paying Lottery Winners, Claiming Budget Shortages
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is filled with I.O.U.s.
The Illinois Lottery has stopped paying jackpots of more than $25,000 while the state government tries to pass a budget and some winners who still haven’t received their payouts are suing the state.
“How the heck can they do this, and they’re still selling tickets?” Rhonda Rasche, who is still waiting for the $50,000 she won in July from a $3 scratch-off ticket, said to the Chicago Tribune. “If I was the one selling raffle tickets and I didn’t pay, I would be sued or in jail or both.”
Not only is the lottery refusing to pay big winnings, it’s still selling tickets for large jackpots. “The lottery represents that you can win instantly,” Rasche’s attorney, Thomas Zimmerman Jr., told the Tribune. “They fail to tell you as of July 1 they’re not going to pay. But yet they continue to sell the tickets under those false pretenses.”
Rasche and Daniel Chasteen, who won $250,000, have filed a class-action suit in federal court to force the state to pay their winnings, plus interest. Their complaint says that at least 29 winners are owed $288 million, according to Courthouse News Service. Two of those winners are John Williams and Neal Logue, who won $262 million in the Mega Millions drawing.
The plaintiffs have at least one friend in the Illinois legislature. “Our government is committing a fraud on the taxpayers, because we’re holding ourselves out as selling a good, and we’re not—we’re not selling anything,” Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat in the state House of Representatives said, according to the complaint. “The lottery is a contract: I pay my money, and if I win, you’re obligated to pay me and you have to pay me timely. It doesn’t say if you have the money or when you have the money.”
Until the state gets its budget figured out, it seems like there’s more than luck involved in winning Illinois’ lottery—it’s how good a lawyer you have.
To Learn More:
Illinois Lottery Sued for Not Paying Winnings Due to State Budget Impasse (by Matthew Walberg and Dawn Rhodes, Chicago Tribune)
Budget Crisis? Not Our Problem, Winners Say (by David Wells, Courthouse News Service)
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