Deadline looms for Illinois Mega Millions sales

Budget impasse suspends sales
Posted at 7:48 PM, Jun 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-30 20:48:56-04

Turmoil over the Illinois Lottery could be great news for businesses just over the border in Wisconsin.

Illinois suspended sales of Powerball tickets Thursday night due to uncertainty surrounding the state budget.

Friday night, sales of Mega Millions tickets are slated to be suspended at 9:45 p.m. if lawmakers can't reach a solution.

The Illinois Lottery has the money needed to pay out prizes, but is counting on lawmakers to pass a budget and ensure prize payments can occur.

The Powerball and Mega Millions games include states from across the country. Agreements dictate that those states' respective lotteries must have the budget authority to pay out winners.

As the wait continues, residents in Northern Illinois wanting to play the lottery will have to venture across the border.

Joseph Lobono, who lives in Illinois, said he's already buying Powerball tickets in Wisconsin as a precaution.

"Obviously I'd go somewhere to buy a ticket where I know I'm going to get my money if I win," Lobono said.

The Wisconsin Lottery expects others to do the same.

"It really does sadden us to see our friends in the Illinois lottery going through this," said Cindy Polzin, Wisconsin Lottery Director.

"That being said, we do suspect our retailers on the border will see an uptick of sales," she added.

Early numbers back up that theory. Polzin said an analysis of lottery sales Thursday at a few businesses in Pleasant Prairie showed a 155% increased from to the same day last week.

Polzin added fewer players, due to the suspension of sales in Illinois, could mean smaller jackpots in the Powerball and Mega Millions games.

"The more people that are playing those jackpot games, obviously the more the jackpot increases," Polzin said. "We have no way of knowing if all of those former Illinois players are going to now go to their neighboring states just to purchase tickets."

Anthony Perrine, owner of Lou Perrine's Gas & Grocery in Kenosha, said roughly 50 percent of people who buy lotto tickets do so at a gas station.

He added lottery players also tend to buy gasoline, groceries, cigarettes, or soda. So he thinks Illinoisans in search of lottery tickets will also translate into more sales of other goods.

"We do get some commuters through here from Northern Illinois heading to work in Racine or Milwaukee," Perrine said.

"Chances are they'll be getting their gas here, their lottery tickets here, and whatever else they need," he said.