Illinois Lawmakers Want Investigation After Lottery Report

Dec 12, 2016

State lawmakers want an investigation after a newspaper found the Illinois Lottery sold instant tickets but didn't hand out many cash grand prizes.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the bi-partisan group of lawmakers is calling for legislative hearings after the newspaper's report.

Democratic state Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie says if a lottery game promises a pay out and it doesn't provide the prize then "we've lied to the people who bought the tickets."

Republican state Rep. David McSweeney of Barrington Hills says the hearings are necessary "for the integrity of the games."

The published report says the Illinois Lottery collected hundreds of millions of dollars in instant ticket sales from 2011 to 2015, but did not hand out all of the grand prizes.      

The Chicago Tribune reports that, for the largest scratch-offs, lottery officials didn't hand out 23 grand prizes. That amounts to more than 40 percent.

The newspaper cites thousands of public documents obtained through open record requests and interviews with lottery officials and experts. It looked at data from 2011, when private lottery manager Northstar Lottery Group took over, until June of last year.

Lottery officials did not dispute the newspaper's findings, but they said the results were misleading or insignificant.

Northstar has been under scrutiny for other areas, including not meeting goals. Illinois officials have been seeking a replacement manager.

Illinois Lottery spokesperson Jason Schaumburg responded to WNIJ in a statement regarding the report:

“Governor Rauner inherited a flawed lottery contract, and terminated the bad deal with Northstar, instantly saving taxpayers $22 million. As part of the governor’s transformation efforts, a search is currently under way for a new lottery manager that will be more transparent and provide a better value to taxpayers, while also adhering to the General Assembly’s requirement to have the lottery be run by a private manager."

  • The Associated Press and WNIJ's Jessie Schlacks contributed to this report.