Without budget, Wednesday's Powerball final one for Illinois lotto players

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Wednesday could be your last chance to get your hands on a Powerball ticket in Illinois because of the budget crisis. (WLS)

Wednesday could be your last chance to get your hands on a Powerball ticket in Illinois because of the budget crisis.

If a budget is not passed by Friday, Wednesday could be your last chance to play Powerball in Illinois. People can still buy Illinois Lottery tickets as winners of jackpots more than $25,000 will have their payments delayed.

Wednesday night's drawing is for $92 million. The winning numbers are: 29 - 37 - 46 - 53 - 68 Powerball: 8

For the lucky winners of the Illinois lottery, big payments would be seriously delayed if Illinois enters its third year without a state budget.

"Tonight's drawing is the last one for this year, so the last drawing for Powerball in the state should we not have the funding authority," said Greg Smith, acting director of the Illinois Lottery.

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Wednesday could be your last chance to get your hands on a Powerball ticket in Illinois because of the budget crisis.



The lottery officials in charge of the Mega Millions and Powerball games said their decision to drop the state is based on concerns that Illinois would not be able to pay winning tickets. The two games together bring in more than $300 million in revenue for Illinois each year.

"I thought the lottery was there to support the school system," said Ted Johnson, lottery player and Chicago resident. "To put that in jeopardy raises big questions."

"This is a goose that lays golden eggs and we are screwing around with the golden eggs. It's nuts, absolutely nuts," said State Rep. David Harris (R-53rd District).

"I just hope that this absolutely ridiculous, easily solved situation can indeed be easily solved within the next 24 to 48 hours," Harris added.

During a committee hearing in Springfield Wednesday, the head of the lottery said they are already feeling the impact in sales simply from the news of an impending end to the games.

"Last week alone, our sales for the Powerball game dropped over 10 percent just on the news of the idea that we may be suspended, so the players are quick to respond to that," said Smith.

And even though lottery officials said that winning tickets sold this week will be paid, some Illinois residents are hedging their bets and choosing instead to drive across the border into Indiana to buy their tickets.

"If I win I want to be here and collect my money, I don't want to have to wait," Johnson said.

Frustration with lawmakers continues to grow as the budget deadline looms.

"the governor wants his way, Madigan and the Democrats want their way, so when do the public get what they want?" asked Gregory Clark of Chicago.

"They need to take stock and inventory of what they're doing they work for, and come up with a budget," said Gregory Clark, lottery player.

It's kind of like rolling the dice on lawmakers.

"Yeah," Clark agreed. "And we keep coming up craps."

Mega Millions tickets will only be sold through Friday as well if there is no budget deal reached. Governor Bruce Rauner said if lawmakers can't get him a balanced budget by Friday, he intends to keep them in Springfield through the holiday weekend and until they can deliver such a budget.

Senate President John Cullerton reacted to the governor's threat in a statement, calling on Rauner not to give up before negotiations are over: "It's Wednesday. Now is not the time for the governor to give up. Now is the time to find agreement. People are counting on us. Jobs, schools, vital services all hang in the balance. The avenue to success is there. We would hope that the governor would finally show the willingness to end this impasse and end the chaos."

Lawmakers said they are optimistic a budget will be passed Friday, and Powerball machines will be back up and running.

It's not just the lottery at stake. State-funded road projects could come to a screeching halt, and state-run services, de-funded, if we enter our third consecutive year without a budget.

"I think it's disgraceful. I think it's not proper. I think that taxpayers should have a say in this and I don't understand how people are not in an uproar about this!" said Chicagoan Mary Rafferty.

Steven S. agrees and wants to know what his representatives are doing to help improve our state's sorry state.

"How are legislators being paid? What sacrifices are they making?" he said.

In Springfield Tuesday, lawmakers seemed extremely optimistic that would not happen. Cullerton said they were, "very close" to a budget plan that the Illinois House would like and that is aligned with the governor's plan, too.

House Speaker Mike Madigan said the new budget has a decreased spending plan, by about two-and-a-half billion dollars, although residents would see an increase when it comes to their income tax rate.

"I'm not saying that this is perfect, I'm not saying that this meets every request of the governor, but I think that it goes a long way to giving the state of Illinois a good solid spending plan that responds to the needs of the state," Madigan said.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR POWERBALL
- Powerball sales in Illinois will be suspended at 9:00 p.m. June 28, 2017.

- All Powerball tickets purchased before that cut-off time will be valid tickets.
- All active Powerball subscriptions will be cancelled after the last draw on June 28. The Lottery will issue refunds to players for the remaining length of their subscriptions.
- When a Fiscal Year 2018 appropriation for the Illinois Lottery is passed, the Lottery will work with the Multi-State Lottery Association to determine a path for the return of Powerball sales. The timing is unknown.
- No other Illinois Lottery games will be suspended.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR MEGA MILLIONS

- Players should not delay claiming a winning ticket.
- Valid claims of more than $25,000 will experience a delay in payments due to the Comptroller's inability to make payments on behalf of the Lottery without an appropriation.
- Players with valid claims of any amount who owe money to the state (via an "offset") will experience a delay in payments due to the Comptroller's inability to make payments on behalf of the Lottery without an appropriation.
- At this time, the Illinois Lottery will continue to pay valid claims of $25,000 or less at any of the five Lottery Prize Centers located throughout Illinois - Chicago, Des Plaines, Fairview Heights, Rockford and Springfield.
- Prizes of $600 or less will continue to be paid at the Lottery's nearly 8,000 retail partners.
Illinois Lottery officials noted that they have contributed $19 billion to the Common School Fund to assist K-12 schools since the fund was started in 1985. In 2016, lottery sales of $2.86 billion provided a $691.55 million contribution to the fund.

The Illinois Lottery has additionally contributed $44 million to special causes including veterans services, breast cancer research, Multiple Sclerosis research, Special Olympics training programs, and assistance of state residents living with HIV/AIDS.

The lottery said Powerball sales accounted for $208 million in 2016, while Mega Millions sales accounted for $99 million in 2016.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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politicsillinois budgetpowerballmega millionsIllinoisSpringfield
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