24 Sep Winners Sue Over Suspended Lottery Payments in Illinois
Rhonda Rasche and Danny Chasteen thought their luck had changed; they took a chance and would be rewarded in money. But instead of choosing between a lottery annuity settlement and selling lottery payments for a lump sum, they’re stuck in lottery limbo. Rasche and Chasteen are two of the reportedly dozens of lottery winners in the state of Illinois that are being told they can’t collect their lottery payments, according to the Chicago Tribune. Rasche is sitting on a $50,000 prize, while Chasteen won a $250,000 jackpot.
“How the heck can they do this, and they’re still selling tickets?” Rasche said. “If I was the one selling raffle tickets and I didn’t pay, I would be sued or in jail or both. I laugh, but it’s not funny. This could go on forever. (House Speaker Mike) Madigan and (Gov. Bruce) Rauner will never get along. It could be 2018 before I see my money. I don’t trust the state.”
They have decided to take the matter to court and demand action. The motion, filed Wednesday, seeks class-action status saying that the lottery committed fraud by continuing to market and sell tickets for prizes they knew they couldn’t currently provide. It calls for temporary stoppage of lottery ticket sales until the state’s in a position to fulfill all obligations. It also states that lottery officials and administration be barred from receiving salary payments until the issue is resolved. They might stand a good chance if it goes to trial considering 90% of cases do end in victory for the plaintiff. Chances are more likely it will be settled outside of court, though, like 80 to 92% of cases are.
Smaller winners are still able to obtain their lottery payments, but for amounts over $25,000 the state Comptroller, Leslie Munger, can’t pay out until a new budget is passed for the fiscal year. The budget, which had a July 1 deadline, may not be decided on until late September or October. That isn’t soon enough for winners like Rasche and Chasteen who have already waited over a month only to be told they still can’t have the money they’re entitled to.
State Representative Jack Franks plans to draft legislation that would allow the comptroller’s office to write the checks for the big winners without a budget.
“They’ve got the money, they just don’t have the legal authority to spend it,” Franks said. “My bill will allow them legal authority to do it.”
The only problem with Frank’s plan is that state lawmakers won’t be back in session until September 24th, unless the governor calls them back for a special session. Until then Rasche, Chasteen, and the other big money “winners” are stuck in lottery limbo. This will give them time to plan how they’ll spend the money, if they ever do get it, and avoid being one of the 70% of lottery winners that lose or spend all their money within five years.