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Lottery may dump Illinois unless the state agrees to a budget

EAST ST. LOUIS, IL – Powerball and Mega Millions players in Illinois could be big losers at the end of this month. Land of Lincoln residents won’t have a chance to play both games in their state.

Julie Barlow said she plays once in a while.

“Honestly, it’s kind of ridiculous, because that’s how Illinois is getting their money in the first place,” she said.

If Illinois doesn’t get a budget in place soon, officials say the organizations that control Powerball and Mega Millions will pull the games from Illinois. That worries stores owners like Mike Barta. He’s owned Express Market in East St. Louis for a dozen years.

“If Powerball is above $300 million, then you get all kinds of customers coming; they want to play tickets,” he said.

Lawmakers are the ones who could change things. The acting director of the state lottery said citizens will be denied the opportunity to play these two popular games.

“It’s so critical the general assembly deliver a balanced budget to the governor’s desk that he can sign,” he said.

People are not happy about the possibility that the two lottery games could be gone July 1.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea it gives something for people to look forward to it always that luck everybody want to have a little bit of luck and why not pay the state of Illinois at the same time,” Barlow said.

The Multi-State Lottery Association said it is, “focused on protecting the integrity of its games and the experience of its players.”

But Illinois’ loss could be Missouri’s gain.

“I’d probably go to Missoui and get (a ticket),” said resident Debbie Eichholz.

Mike Barta said he would lose customers.

“Oh yeah, you know, five minutes across the bridge and you go over there, play your number, buy your tickets and buy your stuff, and that’s it,” he said.

One convenience store owner in St. Louis expects his lottery sales and sales of other things in his store to jump as much as 25 percent if Illinois loses the two big games.