The state of Illinois is getting ready to take a big gamble on outsourcing its lottery operations in what would be the largest privatization in the U.S. of a state-run program. The lottery in that state has generated about $13 billion for Illinois public schools since its inception in 1974. But if it were leased out to a private business, some worry schoolchildren in that state would be the real losers if the operation were to fail.
It was Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) who brought up the proposal in May of last year to privatize the state's lottery for as much as $10 billion--as a way of getting more money to school students. The deal is expected to happen by this coming spring. Other states, including Indiana have similar plans before their legislatures.
Anita Bedell, the executive director of the ILCAAAP (Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems), and John Filan, chief operating officer of the state of Illinois were on “Street Signs” to give their views on the state's plans.
Filan says the state has long been considering the opportunity for a concession or long-term lease for its lottery in order to stay competitive. Many countries in Europe have their national lotteries run by a private business and still remain profitable, he says. The hope is that a private bidder could run the lottery better than the state and increase revenue – Filan says Illinois would still retain ownership of the lottery system and would get a percentage of any increase in revenue that was generated.