Monday, June 19, 2017

No more Mega-Millions!?! @$$#%!

We’re coming up on the two-full-year mark of not having a budget proposal for Illinois state government, yet about the most outraged the public has become was that point in time in October of ’15 when state officials said the financial problems would cause payments to be delayed to Illinois Lottery game winners.
Soon to be no more?

The people who lamely played their numbers (or let the ‘quick pick’ option do it for them) learned that their “jackpot” wasn’t going to come anytime in the near future. They’d have to get in line and wait like everybody else who does business with the state.

THAT, I RECALL, ticked people off enough to file lawsuits demanding immediate payment of their newly-found fortunes. They weren’t going to wait one minute for the prize money they thought they were entitled to.

In short, it was this relatively trivial aspect of state government finances that caught the attention of the public and probably was the first bit of attention many people paid to the fact that we have our government in operating mode without any specific plan for how it is spending money.

The lottery can do that for you; it will capture the attention of the public, particularly those with no work ambition who seriously are banking their future on the off-chance of a game-winning prize.

Perhaps those kind of people who watch re-runs of the old “Roseanne” show and think that program’s final season (in which she wins $108 million in the Illinois Lottery and goes through many life-changing experiences) is their fantasy come true!

WHICH IS WHY it was significant last week when reports indicated the state’s financial problems are again impacting the lottery.

It’s the Mega-Millions and Powerball games – those multi-state initiatives that the Illinois Lottery cooperates with that, because so many people get involved, have the potential to create such large prizes so quickly.

They’re popular for those people who really want to dream about what they’d do with a couple hundred million dollars, but wouldn’t have a clue how to earn money legitimately.

It seems the inability of the state to promptly pay its bills is causing bureaucratic complications that will mean Illinois will no longer participate in those particular games. The Illinois Lottery will go back to just its standard weekly draws and its instant scratch-off games.

AFTER WINNING ALL those millions, how are we going to get people to want to play when the potential prize is an instant game $5?

It’s literally like that old World War I-era jingle, “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm? After They’ve Seen Paree?” Or maybe we’ll be asked to believe that these new lottery prizes are something special – like Paris, Ill., the Edgar County town of some 6,100 people.

It was interesting to see the Capitol Fax newsletter out of Springfield the other day – as it published tidbits hinting it might actually be the state pulling out of the lottery games, rather than the state being dumped.

Although as WBBM-TV reported recently, the two games do kick back to the state a share of the proceeds from tickets sold here – totaling some $122 million. Not a petty sum.

BUT ALSO NOT something that helps the state much since, without a formal budget in place, we can’t spend the money on anything – except for those state programs that have federal court orders insisting they operate regardless of the state’s ineptitude.

I can’t help but wonder how the outrage will be expressed. Will we literally get people picketing for their right to play Powerball? Will the Mega Millions be the issue that causes the public to put pressure on the politicos to get off their derrieres and act?
Enough to make some of us honorary Hoosiers?

Will we experience a continued sense of apathy? Or will we see the rush of people across the state line to Indiana, seeking out every convenience store, gas station and cheap smokes shop with a “Hoosier Lottery” sign so they can buy their Powerball tickets there?

Will lottery tickets become like gasoline; something that people who live near the border make a special trip across State Line Road to purchase because the local option is just so ridiculous by comparison?


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