It is not the biggest problem in the world, but it succinctly helped make Illinois a national embarrassment: the lottery with no prizes.
Without a state budget, there was no spending authority for big prizes. That did not stop the lottery from selling tickets – or from advertising.
“It didn't affect us early,” said Bill Fleishli, executive vice president of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association / Illinois Association of Convenience Stores, “but, as it came down to the point when they said they were not going to pay (jackpots) after $600, about a month ago, it really affected us. We saw a little dropoff. Then we saw a severe dropoff.”
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Fleishli says the lottery itself is not a big profit center for his constituents, but anything that brings people into the store helps drive sales of drinks, candy, and snacks, customarily the big-margin items for the gas stations and convenience stores. He says lottery retailers in stores across Illinois' borders reaped the benefits.
The lottery also made news this year when the state cancelled its contract with the Northstar management firm; Fleishli says he is looking forward to new management and, possibly, new games.