This isn’t the first time that it’s happened — multiple people have won the lottery and tried to redeem their winning tickets, but this state simply refused to pay up, causing a massive uproar among the furious community.
Illinois families were outraged after the state failed to pay out their lottery winnings. According to Tom Zimmerman, an attorney who represented some of the winners, the state refused to pay out a whopping $288 million in winnings, Yahoo! News reported.
The state of Illinois announced that it would not be paying out any winnings over $600 until a budget crisis was resolved, according to TIME. However, TV ads promoting the lottery continued to air. “If any private business would engage in this kind of conduct, selling tickets and not paying out the winner, the state would shut them down and indict them for fraud,” said Zimmerman.
Rhonda Rasche, a 49-year-old hospital clerk, said that after getting a winning scratch-off ticket for $50,000, officials told her she would be receiving a check in the mail with her winnings in four to six weeks. But, months later, she still had not yet been paid. “I’ve been waiting for a check for $50,000,” she said. Rasche is part of the group of lottery winners who sued the state to get their winnings.
One upset lottery winner, Susan Rick, spoke to Inside Edition, saying, “We won. We finally can have a comfortable life. Suddenly you’re gonna pull the rug out from under us. We had a ticket for $250,000.”
Similarly, a group of city employees from Chicago joined a lottery pool and wound up winning $1 million, but they didn’t see a dime of it. They sued the state of Illinois, too.
“Payment delays will occur because there currently is no legal authority for the Illinois Comptroller or the Illinois Lottery to issue checks,” the Illinois Lottery said in a statement, according to USA Today. “Please note that the funding to pay winners exists, but the legal authority to issue checks does not.”
The state of Illinois promised to issue lottery winners their payments once a budget was passed, but this did little to ease tensions amongst furious taxpayers who were given no more than IOUs after winning fortunes. And, anyone abrest of the way the government handles things would be skeptical.
“Stuff like this makes me wish I didn’t live in Illinois,” one embarrassed citizen commented on social media. It’s hard to argue with that. If the state could not pay lottery winners, they should have stopped selling tickets, as attorney Tom Zimmerman noted. Otherwise, what they are engaged in is tantamount to fraud.