Illinois Lottery Winners File Lawsuit Over Halted Payments

Sep 9, 2015

Two lottery winners have filed a federal lawsuit against the Illinois Lottery, which stopped paying out large prizes because there's no state budget. 

Credit Illinois Lottery

The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Rhonda Rasche and Danny Chasteen seeks class action status. 

Rasche is awaiting a $50,000 payout. Chasteen won $250,000.  

Last month the state comptroller's office said that without a budget for the July 1 fiscal year, there wasn't authority to write checks over $25,000 and payments would be delayed.  

The lawsuit says the lottery still pays wages and seeks a court order to stop ticket sales until Illinois pays. It alleges dozens await more than $288 million in prizes.  

A lottery spokesman didn't return a message seeking comment.  

Comptroller Leslie Munger says winnings can't be paid without a budget unlike other expenses dictated by court orders.

Democrats in the Illinois Senate have a plan to address the problem: Authorize the spending. 

The measure approved by Senate Democrats, Senate Bill 2046, also includes funding for social services, like elder abuse monitoring and addiction treatment – $1.8 billion from the General Revenue Fund and $2 billion from other state funds.

"Ultimately, we need a budget," says sponsor Sen. Heather Steans, of Chicago. "We should be having an overall, comprehensive budget. In lieu of us not getting through this budget impasse the goal here is to make sure that we don't allow the human service agencies across the state to get decimated."

But Republicans, including Gov. Bruce Rauner ’s administration, say it'll lead to an unbalanced budget and a tax hike. 

"I feel like I'm being punked," Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine said during the floor debate, noting that with court-ordered and automatic spending, Illinois is on track to spend more than it takes in.

  • WUIS's Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.