Categories
BLOG

illinois lottery winners stories

Hidden riches: Big lottery winner in Beardstown unknown — law change allows lotto privacy

Agency mum on $250,000 winner

Updated 9:27 pm CST, Monday, February 18, 2019

A jackpot winner in Jamaica wore a mask from the horror movie “Scream” to claim the prize last week. Law changes in Illinois also allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.

A jackpot winner in Jamaica wore a mask from the horror movie “Scream” to claim the prize last week. Law changes in Illinois also allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.

Photo: Supreme Ventures Ltd

Photo: Supreme Ventures Ltd

A jackpot winner in Jamaica wore a mask from the horror movie “Scream” to claim the prize last week. Law changes in Illinois also allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.

A jackpot winner in Jamaica wore a mask from the horror movie “Scream” to claim the prize last week. Law changes in Illinois also allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.

Photo: Supreme Ventures Ltd

BEARDSTOWN — Someone in the Beardstown area is a quarter-million dollars richer.

Just who could stay a mystery, though, because of a new law that allows lottery winners to remain anonymous.

That is an about-face from years past.

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, was signed into law in August. It means winners of high-dollar lottery games — like the $250,000 Lucky Day Lotto ticket sold in Beardstown — are no longer required to be identified publicly.

Before, after a winner claimed a large prize, the Illinois Lottery would reveal the name and town of residence. When the Journal-Courier contacted Illinois Lottery officials about the identity of the Lucky Day Lotto winner, the agency declined.

“We cannot publicize the winner’s information on prizes over $250,00 or greater if the person requests anonymity at the time they make the claim,” a representative said.

Murphy said that she believes the law will provide a level of privacy for winners.

“Not everyone wants the fame that comes with winning a large prize from the lottery,” Murphy said in a press release shortly after the enactment of the law. “Illinois Lottery winners should be able to keep their information private if they so choose.”

However, Murphy also cooperated with the Illinois Press Association in adding an amendment that ensures that Freedom of Information Act, an act designed to keep government agencies transparent by allowing the public to access any public record by request, supersedes the privacy law, according to attorney Don Craven, the press association’s legal counsel.

“I get it. If I won $3 million, I may not want anybody to know that,” Craven said. “The reality is, if you figure out somebody has won $250,000 in your town all you have to do is file a Freedom of Information Act request and you’ve got it. We weren’t worried about privacy issues simply because we can still get the information.”

“The bill is a delay for us — but that’s it,” he said.

Although the Illinois State Lottery is privately contracted by Camelot Illinois, the state retains ownership and regulatory oversight on operations.

Illinois joins Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina in allowing winners to remain anonymous.

Critics of allowing for the anonymous collection of prizes site the lack of transparency in government and making it easier for cheaters to go undetected. Advocates for privacy site instances in which the publication of the winner’s name upended their life, such as the case of Urooj Khan, who won a $1 million jackpot and was then killed via cyanide poisoning. His killer was never discovered.

State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer of Jacksonville expressed his support for the idea of privacy for a lottery winner after hearing such stories.

“I think a lot of people have seen the show ‘How The Lottery Changed My Life’ and I think what often happens is somebody will win a sum of money, after taxes they get maybe half of it, and people will knock down their doors asking for donations,” Davidsmeyer said. “It would be interesting to know who won, but at the same time I think that’s probably their business, not mine.”

Nick Draper can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1223, or on Twitter @nick_draper.

Hidden riches: Big lottery winner in Beardstown unknown — law change allows lotto privacy Agency mum on $250,000 winner Updated 9:27 pm CST, Monday, February 18, 2019 A jackpot winner in

Illinois Lottery Prize Winners Frustrated With Claim Centers Closed, Questions About It Unanswered

DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) — What would you do if you won the Lotto?

Well first, you’d probably collect your money – but in Illinois, many players can’t even do that right now.

The CBS 2 Morning Insiders have discovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid winnings from the past few months, and players tell Tim McNicholas the Illinois Lottery is not answering their questions.

“I’ve always played this number. It’s my dog’s birthday.” Said John Sandor.

Sandor said he won $2,700 playing a pick-four back in March from his local gas station in Crystal Lake.

When you win that much, you usually have to go to a claim or prize center, but those were closed due to the pandemic.

“I’d like to get my money, you know?” Sandor said.

Then, the Illinois Lottery announced it would be reopening claim centers on July 1. So Sandor drove to the Rockford location on July 6, only to be told they were already shut back down.

“I asked why and they just wouldn’t really give me a good answer,” Sandor said. “They just said they were closed.”

Other players took to Facebook to complain, with some saying they also showed up in early July but couldn’t get paid.

Nicki Misialek won $2,000 in mid-June, but when she heard about the issues, she decided it wasn’t worth the drive.

“Can they not handle the amount of people?” Misialek said.

Misialek and Sandor both say they have had a hard time getting clear answers. In 2015, Illinois gave IOU’s to some lottery winners to ease the state’s financial burdens, so Misialek started to worry.

“If they would just say were not set up because of COVID, it’s understandable,” she said. “But leaving you hanging makes you wonder about the state’s finances, COVID, any other reason possible.”

We showed up at a claims center in Des Plaines and found barricades with signs saying the lottery is not making any more claims for the day.

Another sign says the claim center is closed until further notice, and you can visit IllinoisLottery.com for more information.

The website does not give a reopening date, but it does say winners can claim their tickets by mail, at a time when people across the Chicago area are complaining their mail isn’t showing up.

“You don’t know if it’s going to get lost. You don’t know if you’re going to get it back. You don’t know how long it’s going to take,” Sandor said.

Lakeisha Hampton from South Holland said she found a huge line “wrapped all the way around the building” July 2 outside the Des Plaines location when she showed up around 8 a.m.

She said an employee turned her away, so she drove to Rockford – only to be told they were done for the day.

“It was a hot mess out here,” Hampton said. “There were elderly people standing outside in the hot sun.”

The Illinois Lottery website said you should make a copy of your ticket, but mail in the original.

But Hampton said given her winnings, she does not feel comfortable putting the original in the mail.

“It was for the jackpot,” Hampton said. “It was like $250,000.”

Illinois Lottery would not agree to an interview. But in a statement, they said the early July response was overwhelming and the long lines in the summer heat were unsafe, so they shut the centers down.

The Lottery acknowledged a better option is needed, and they plan to launch a new system where winners can set up appointments online to visit the claim centers.

On Monday afternoon the, Illinois Lottery announced that appointments will start July 27 at four of their claim centers. You can make an appointment at IllinoisLottery.com. No walk-ins are allowed.

A couple other states have set up similar systems.

A Lottery representative also recommended mailing in your claim. She said it typically takes about three to four weeks to get your prize that way.

What would you do if you won the Lotto? Well first, you’d probably collect your money – but in Illinois, many players can’t even do that right now. ]]>