Illinois lottery officials said they still are feeling the aftereffects from when payouts to winners were in limbo last year.
Before an appropriation allowed for lottery winnings to be paid out, winners of the Illinois Lottery waited months for their checks.
Illinois Lottery Acting Director B.R. Lane told a Senate appropriations committee earlier this month the lottery has yet to fully recover from the decline in sales.
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“We’re off 12 percent year over year,” Lane said. “We were greatly helped by the Powerball mania.”
What’s more difficult to judge, Lane said, is how badly the Illinois Lottery brand was damaged during that time. “As we look to move this organization forward, one of the things that we have to focus on is re-establishing trust and credibility with our players.”
Lane added that Illinois should reauthorize online lottery sales and, this time, make it permanent.
The state made more than $50 million on Internet sales during the pilot program, he said. Passage of House Bill 4346 would make the soon-to-expire pilot program permanent.
“And that, I would say, is one of the greatest opportunity areas for growth and development and innovation in the lottery,” Lane said.
However, not everyone is on board. Anita Bedell with Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems is among those opposing the bill. She said people could find themselves in over their heads fast playing online.
“People can gamble and lose money so quickly, and you only have to be 18 to gamble online with the lottery,” Bedell said.
Online sales are expected to expire March 25, and lawmakers are not scheduled to return to Springfield until the second week of April.
Lane said the lottery is still in the process of finding a new private manager to replace Northstar Lottery Group, which remains in place until the new manager takes charge.