- Associated Press - Thursday, September 17, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Lottery lost money last year for the first time since 2009, reducing the amount of money it generates for state programming by $125 million, according to a new report from the Illinois Legislature.

The loss comes after the state hired a private manager, Northstar Lottery Group, in 2010 to increase sales and profits. Money from the lottery goes to state programs, mostly education efforts.

The bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability’s report shows the amount of lottery money available for state programs fell by $125 million to $690 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported (https://bit.ly/1QknR5F ).

The state’s capital projects fund felt the drop the most, receiving $8 million last year, or 94 percent less than the previous year. Because of the way lottery money is distributed, schools received a little more money last year - $679 million up from $668 million the year before.

Lottery officials attribute the drop to prize payout ratio changes that cost about $77 million, according to the report. Northstar Lottery Group officials didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.



The report painted a grim picture of the state’s relationship with Northstar. It said Northstar has consistently failed to meet profit targets, has gone to arbitration with the state numerous times, repeatedly paid penalties for not meeting targets and failed to expand the number of lottery retail outlets as promised.

“The future of the lottery is expected to be turbulent in the coming months,” the report said.

The report also comes at a time when the Illinois Lottery isn’t paying out winnings of more than $25,000 due to a state budget crisis. Winners have filed a lawsuit asking the state to stop selling lottery tickets until the winners are paid.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, https://www.sj-r.com

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