Budget-Beleaguered Illinois Set To Forgo Lottery Sales

Mar 4, 2016

Credit Illinois Lottery

Even as Illinois scrounges for money it appears as if the state will let revenue slip away, albeit only a tiny slice of revenue. Legislators' delay also means that by the end of this month, Lottery fans won't be able to buy tickets online.

Years ago, Illinois authorized online Lottery sales --- but only on a temporary basis. That authority expires March 25.

Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Republican from Lake County,  introduced legislation to make the program permanent, "because it's a process that has done well, and it's done well for bringing money into our schools."

But Democrats prevented it from advancing, and members of the Illinois House aren't scheduled to be back in Springfield until April. Senate President John Cullerton recently also advanced a bill so it would be in place for action in the House, but it too stalled.

"I don't know that the Internet part of the Lottery is that heavily used, so I'm not sure that it poses a big ... big loss at the moment," said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan.

According to the Illinois Lottery spokesman, the pilot program accounted for less than one percent -- .75 percent -- of all sales in FY15. 

Brown says there wasn't time to vet suggestions from the governor's office, Senators, and others had suggestions for expanding online Lottery options.

He says lawmakers will revisit the issue in the spring, as the legislative session progresses.

The Lottery says last year it booked $10.8 million in sales over the Internet; proceeds go to education, and pay for construction projects.

The Illinois Lottery began selling subscription tickets online in 2011, and followed with other ticket sales the next year.