Illinois lottery imposes new budget-driven payment delays on prizes

Lottery winners in Illinois will have to wait for payout
Lottery winners in Illinois will have to wait for payout

The cash-starved Illinois lottery lowered the boom even harder on its players on Wednesday, saying anyone with a winning ticket worth $600 or more will face delays collecting prizes until the state's long-running budget impasse ends.

Since July, the state has not been making timely payments to players who have won $25,000 or more, triggering a class-action lawsuit in federal court last month against Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's administration.

The state lottery department indicated it had to lower the payout threshold even more because there has been no break in the budget fight between Rauner and Democrats controlling the state legislature.

"We don't have the legislative authority to replenish our check-writing account," lottery spokesman Steve Rossi told Reuters.

Rossi said players with winning tickets worth $600 and up eventually will be paid once the stalemate is over. The new payout policy takes effect Friday.

He said the agency has not contemplated suspending any of its betting games while the budget fight continues. The state is in its fourth month without a spending plan.