The state of Illinois has been bankrupt for a long time, and this is having many effects on its citizens. One especially unfair example of this concerns the state-run lottery, which despite still airing ads for its jackpots, will not pay out winnings of $288 million to those who have won. In a special episode of Inside Edition, the story was elaborated on by some of the families affected, and by the attorney representing them. Tom Zimmerman, that attorney, has seen this before.
Yahoo! News reported that Zimmerman claims that the state owes multiple winners $288 million, dating from jackpots over the last three years.
Despite announcing that the state would not be paying out winnings of over $600 to anyone until the budget crisis was resolved, advertisements for the lottery continued to air. The issue was that many bought lottery tickets unaware of the state’s backtracking on the issue of paying out winnings. TIME reported this announcement of the state but it is clear that it did not reach everyone. The stories of lottery winners are heartbreaking in their emotion and their number. Many of these lottery winners who feel cheated appeared on the special episode of Inside Edition to discuss what they understand is a huge problem.
Susan Rick had a ticket for $250 000. She says, “We won. We finally can have a comfortable life. Suddenly you’re gonna pull the rug out from under us.” That “you” is clearly the state – and it is no secret how she feels about the bankrupt state government.
Another disgruntled lottery winner is Rhonda Rasche, a hospital clerk. She had a ticket for $50 000 and has yet to see a cent of it, months later. This is all despite the fact officials told her she would get a cheque in the mail no later than four to six weeks after her ticket had won. Perhaps the most heartbreaking story is that of employees of the City of Chicago. They, united in their job, banded together and joined a lottery pool to buy a ticket that ended up winning $1 million. Their initial elation has turned to disappointment and bitterness as more and more time passes without any of them seeing any of the money they feel they are owed.
A group of the lottery winners is suing the state to get the money that is part of their winnings. Zimmerman, who is representing this group, says the state is acting as if it is excepted from the law.
“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,”
he says. The state is acting beyond itself here, and the winners deserve to be paid. There is also the question as to why ads for the lottery continued to be aired after the state went bankrupt and could not afford to pay winners.