State: Lottery still assessing damage of impasse

Illinois Lottery officials say they are still feeling the aftereffects from when payouts to winners were in limbo last year.

Before an appropriation allowed for lottery winnings to be paid out, lottery winners waited months for their checks. Illinois Lottery Acting Director B.R. Lane told a Senate appropriations committee earlier this month they have yet to fully recover from the decline in sales.

“We’re off 12 percent year over year,” Lane said. “We were greatly helped by the Powerball mania.”

However, Lane says what’s more difficult to judge is how the Illinois Lottery brand was damaged during that time.

“As we look to move this organization forward, one of the things that we have to focus on is re-establishing trust and credibility with our players.”

Meanwhile, Lane says the Lottery is still in the process of finding a new private manager to replace Northstar Lottery Group, which remains in place until a new manager takes charge.

Online sales to end soon

The state needs to reauthorize online lottery sales and make it permanent, according to the acting director of the Illinois Lottery.

Lane said the state made more than $50 million on Internet sales as a pilot program and the state should pass House Bill 4346 to make the soon-to-expire pilot program permanent.

“And that, I would say, is one of the greatest opportunity areas for growth and development and innovation in the lottery,” Lane said.

However, Anita Bedell with Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems opposes the bill and says people could find themselves in over their heads fast playing online lottery.

“People can gamble and lose money so quickly, and you only have to be 18 to gamble online with the lottery,” Bedell said.

Online sales are expected to expire March 25. Lawmakers are not scheduled to be back in Springfield until the second week of April.

–Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network

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