Iowa Lottery spokesperson, Mary Neubauer, says Illinois has stopped selling Powerball and Mega Millions. “This situation has been building for a little while now as the budget stalemate in the state of Illinois has continued. And what has happened over the last couple of weeks, without a state budget in Illinois, the state of Illinois would then be unable to pay lottery prizes,” Neubauer says.
She says the sales of Powerball and Mega Millions sales in the Land of Lincoln are waiting until a state budget is reached so the state can pay out lottery prizes once again — so no one knows how long the situation is going to continue. She says Illinois is one of 42 states that participate in Powerball and one of 44 states where Mega Millions is offered, so the games will continue.
“I think the important message for everyone to understand is that this is something that is impacting only Illinois, and it is not impacting other states,” Neubauer says. The one thing players in Iowa and other states may notice is a change in the size of jackpots, as the money that had gone into the pot from Illinois will not be there.
“I think in both Powerball and Mega Millions, what people will notice is that jackpots may grow a little more slowly,” Neubauer explains. “Illinois is a big state, there are a lot of people in Illinois buy tickets. And obviously the money generated by sale of tickets in Illinois, a portion of that goes to help jackpots build in both Powerball and Mega Millions. So, we may see the jackpots growing a little more slowly in the months to come.” This was an issue for Illinois back in 2015 — but at that time the state kept selling tickets and issued IOU’s to winners until the budget was resolved.
Neubauer says Iowa border retailers benefited from that move. “In 2015 the Iowa Lottery saw a sales bump back then, because folks obviously know that the state of Illinois was unable to pay prizes, and so we did see folks from Illinois coming to Iowa to buy their tickets back then,” Neubauer says. She expects sales on the eastern edge of Iowa to increase now from Illinois players who still want to play the two games.
“I fully anticipate that we’re going to see a sales jump along the Illinois border here in Iowa simple because people are going to be looking for a place where they can buy tickets and I think some of them are going to come to Iowa,” Neubauer says. “I think some of them are going to the states surrounding Illinois as well. But I think we are going to see a bump from that here.”
The Iowa Lottery has a budget that is separate from the state budget, so paying out prizes in Iowa is not dependent on the state budget.