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Lottery sells tickets even after all prizes have been claimed

Monday, Apr 23, 2018

* We’re apparently ripping off our own residents more than usual

At $30 a ticket, the Illinois Lottery’s World Class Millions instant game was not only one of its priciest offerings — it was also potentially one of the most lucrative for players.

“WIN UP TO $15,000,000! THE HIGHEST INSTANT PAYOUT IN ILLINOIS LOTTERY HISTORY,” shouted a banner across the magenta and silver ticket.

But for the last five weeks the game was on sale this year, none of the three $15 million prizes remained. Yet players purchased an estimated 26,000 tickets during that time, spending about $793,000. […]

From mid-November to mid-March, the lottery sold more than 3 million instant game tickets — costing players more than $20 million — for games that no longer had any top prize available, according to the Tribune’s analysis of lottery records. And at one point in early March, nearly 1 in 6 games on sale no longer had a top prize available.


* Meanwhile

Personal financial and medical information of more than 4,000 people was mailed to the wrong addresses earlier this year, two state agencies announced Friday.

“Notices containing personal information were mailed to 4,136 individuals at incorrect addresses,” a news release from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and Department of Human Services said. “It has not been confirmed that any of the notices were actually opened, as they were addressed to the correct individuals but had the incorrect addresses.”

The notices went out in February. They could have included some health insurance, medical and financial information, as well as dates of birth, the agencies said.

Detailed medical records and Social Security numbers were not shared, so the risk of identity theft is “very low,” according to a news release from the agencies. They said they’ve moved to prevent future mishaps.


…Adding… SJ-R

During the Illinois budget crisis, private companies borrowed billions of dollars to pay government vendors on time with the promise that state repayment would come with late fees.

Now the participants in the Illinois vendor-assistance program say they’re not getting hundreds of millions of dollars in late-payment interest they’re owed.

The financiers told legislators Monday that lending banks might discontinue participation.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:16 pm:

    The house always wins

  2. - Whatever - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:19 pm:

    Glad we finally have a businessman who knows how to run the state like a business.

  3. - @misterjayem - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:20 pm:

    You can’t win i̶f̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶d̶o̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶p̶l̶a̶y̶

    – MrJM

  4. - Perrid - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:28 pm:

    The lottery thing is obviously unfortunate, but I’m wondering if it’s actually shenanigans. As long as the odds were posted and they were accurate, I’m not sure I care if all of the winners were sold before all the losers were sold out. Unless you want a running total of the odds posted at every location, which would be difficult (impossible) to do.

  5. - DuPage Bard - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:33 pm:

    Wonder who the IT group was that has that “cost overrun”? Didn’t Leslie Munger try to sweep a bunch of money into IT before leaving? Didn’t the head of DoIT just leave? Where was he before DoIT? Wonder who’s making all the money off all these IT systems that are increasing in cost everyday?

  6. - Perrid - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:35 pm:

    @DuPage Bard, IES was Deloitte mostly I believe. It’s been in the works for many years, long before Rauner and DoIT.

  7. - very old soil - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:38 pm:


    The odds for winning the top prize were zero for the last five weeks. No need to update

  8. - The Dude Abides - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:44 pm:

    Four more years! Four more years!

  9. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:47 pm:

    –“WIN UP TO $15,000,000! THE HIGHEST INSTANT PAYOUT IN ILLINOIS LOTTERY HISTORY,” shouted a banner across the magenta and silver ticket.

    But for the last five weeks the game was on sale this year, none of the three $15 million prizes remained.–

    How is this not fraud? Criminal fraud, for that matter?

  10. - Perrid - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:48 pm:

    @very old soil, after the question about feasibility, which you addressed, then you get into a question of whether that’s fair to the players who bought the game earlier. As more tickets are sold the odds change, so you are giving more information to people who buy later than the first players. Then you have a practical problem for the lottery, namely that when they set up a game they set the odds and made a certain amount of losers, and if they close down the game early (before they sell all of the losers that were made when the game began) there is a (small) chance they could lose money. As long as the odds in the lifetime of the game are set and public I don’t know that I care if all of the winners get sold first. You are always taking a chance.

  11. - walker - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:59 pm:

    It’s true for all lotteries, that winning tickets are sold before the lottery closes. We just don’t know it yet.

  12. - Mr. K - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 3:07 pm:

    DoIT oughta come up with some sort of blockchain solution for the lottery. That way, it’d be be immediately obvious what prizes are still available and what prizes have been won.

    Although, knowing DoIT, this kind of solution would only work if they could purchase an obscenely expensive contract from some vendor — and then tout it as a “solution” in their incessant email newsletters.

  13. - Roadrager - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 3:13 pm:

    I think the bigger problem was last year, when the Tribune exposed the Lottery pulling scratch-off games out of circulation *before* some of the top prizes were claimed. Finite number of tickets, finite number of prizes. If you’re being truly random and above board, some games are going to unload their big payouts earlier than others.

  14. - Mr. K. - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 3:16 pm:

    If you’re being truly random and above board, some games are going to unload their big payouts earlier than others.

    It’s only an issue if you’re not aware of it. If the lottery had a real-time awareness of its own status — then folks could make an informed decision about whether or not to play (and determine the odds on the remaining prizes).

  15. - Malcolm Tucker - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 3:23 pm:

    The Tribune’s lottery story: if deliberate, it’s fraud. If not, it’s incompetence.

  16. - m - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 3:24 pm:

    =I think the bigger problem was last year, when the Tribune exposed the Lottery pulling scratch-off games out of circulation *before* some of the top prizes were claimed.=

    Yes, that was a true ripoff.

    As for this game, unless you made sure that one of the winners was the last ticket sold (which obviously you could not do), then this will happen, it’s just a matter of how long. Imagine if the grand prize tickets were held until the end of sales - who would play it at the beginning?

    If you run a game where you print a finite number of winners, you have decided the outcome. Most people will have the same 0% chance of winning, because the ticket wasn’t shipped to their gas station, or they bought before winning tickets shipped shipped, or after.

    This is the nature of the beast.

  17. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 3:28 pm:

    – Most people will have the same 0% chance of winning, –

    No, “zero chance of winning” occurs when that prize has been claimed. Until then, there is a chance of winning, no matter how small. “Zero” has a unique and powerful place in mathematics.

    Advertising the chance for a $15 million prize, when there no longer is a $15 million prize — a “zero chance” — is fraud.

  18. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 3:49 pm:

    Madigan and the tickets he controls…..I’m not in charge

  19. - HangingOn - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 3:59 pm:

    There is a link on the Illinois Lottery site where you can see what scratch off prizes are still out there at least. I have used it in the past before deciding which tickets to buy. Not sure how often they update though.

  20. - JoanP - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 4:13 pm:

    @HangingOn -

    “But the Tribune found the lists aren’t updated at regular intervals — sometimes not for up to two weeks.”

  21. - Earnest - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 4:21 pm:

    >but Rauner’s people told us this week the cost overruns make the current price $300 million and still counting.

    The Rauner administration is incredibly inept at projecting contract costs, especially on really really big contracts. It’s also bad at executing quality control and oversight. These are basic functions of the office he holds.

    I struggle to see how spending this much money, to an out-of-state corporation, is more cost effective or better quality than utilizing state employees and perhaps partnering with our higher education system.

  22. - DuPage - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 4:52 pm:

    In the private sector, I think it is called fraud.

  23. - Ryan - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 5:26 pm:

    The remaining ticket count is available online, it’s easy to check. Just because the biggest jackpot has been won, doesn’t mean other winning amounts aren’t available. It’s up to the buyer to do their research, no one is ripping anyone off.

  24. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 5:40 pm:

    –Just because the biggest jackpot has been won, doesn’t mean other winning amounts aren’t available.–

    Yes, that’s easily understood.

    It’s also easily understood that if a $15 million prize cannot be won, you must stop advertising “You could win $15 million.”

  25. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 5:44 pm:

    ===you must stop advertising “You could win $15 million.”===


  26. - Monte Hall - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 6:03 pm:

    Ha! Stop advertising after the promised prizes are won? Surely you jest? Fabulous Fortune, the game featured in the article, is, according to the Lottery’s website, still on sale at lottery retailers. Promising, according to the advertising on the ticket front, “$4 Million Dollar instant prizes” as in plural, more than one. According to the article, the last $4 Million instant prize was awarded last January.

  27. - Jibba - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 6:38 pm:

    Many are asking too much of a printed ticket. The advertised prize was available when the ticket was printed. Each ticket had the same odds of winning each prize. I understand why people are upset, but you can check the web site for game status. Wanting minute by minute updates is asking too much for any human endeavor. Maybe some earlier endings can be built in, but that will cost some of the prize money.

  28. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 6:40 pm:

    –Wanting minute by minute updates is asking too much for any human endeavor. –

    LOL, my gas station has video and digital screens updating the lottery 24/7/365, right at the counter.

  29. - Jibba - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 6:45 pm:

    Full disclosure…I play an occasional scratcher, and this story does not bother me at all.

    You can only build in an earlier ending if you figure it into the prize structure, or if you allow the Lottery to end games when they are statistically ahead. But that bothers me more as a player and would be bad press to not give out all the prizes. Can’t have it both ways, though.

  30. - Jibba - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 6:49 pm:

    Word, I am OK with nearly real time updates at the terminals if the effort is wanted by players, but the ticket itself, being printed, obviously cannot be updated. Unless my million dollar idea of a video scratcher (trademark) gets picked up by the Lottery.

  31. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 7:29 pm:

    The tickets don’t have to say “You could win $15 million.”

    Take a shot yourself at advertising something you know you can’t deliver, see what happens. Same principle should apply to the lottery.

  32. - Blue dog dem - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 7:40 pm:

    Hpw do other state lottos work?

    I am not a lotto player, but I am not sure there is another out.

  33. - Jibba - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 7:46 pm:

    Okee dokee. “Top prize of $15,000,000″. Problem solved? My outrage meter can now be turned to better things.

  34. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 9:14 pm:

    word, I don’t see what the fuss is all about. Anyone who has taken a couple stats classes knows one’s odds of winning the big jackpot are only slightly enhanced by buying a ticket.

  35. - Stand Tall - Tuesday, Apr 24, 18 @ 8:14 am:

    The Lottery, the hidden regressive tax that is aimed at the poor with its false advertising that it will pay for education funding.

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