Big Winners in Ill. Lotto Win a Big, Fat IOU
Lawmakers can't cut checks for prizes of more than $25K until state budget passes
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2015 11:54 AM CDT
A Mega Millions lottery ticket purchased in Chicago, March 29, 2012.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(Newser) – The first question for lottery winners is always, "What are you going to do with the cash?" The first question for Danny Chasteen and Susan Rick, who just won $250,000 in the Illinois lottery, is "When are you going to get the cash?" Not for the foreseeable future, apparently, since the state says it can't pay them just yet, reports CNBC. The reason: The Illinois state budget hasn't yet passed, so funds for lotto winners can't be released, tying lottery officials' hands, notes CNNMoney. A lottery rep tells CNN that those who win $600 or less can cash in at a retailer, while prizes worth $601 to $25,000 can be redeemed at state lottery centers. Cash awards worth more than $25,000? Halted for now.

State Rep. Jack Franks says this is just another show of how mismanaged the Illinois lottery system is. "The lottery is a contract: I pay my money, and if I win, you're obligated to pay me and you have to pay me timely," he tells the Chicago Tribune. And Rick isn't comforted by the assurance she and Chasteen will eventually get paid. "If we owed the state money, they'd come take it and [not] care whether we have a roof over our head," she tells the Tribune. "You can't say [to the state], 'Can you wait until I get my budget under control?' (A man who found $20 in the street used it buy a $1 million winning lottery ticket.)