Don’t gamble on the future of Illinois

State Representatives moved quickly to pass legislation to lease the Illinois Lottery, leaving many questions unanswered.

Illinois voters approved the Lottery to fund education. SB 2595 will lease the Lottery with only a portion going to education–$600 million a year, which is a decrease from the $657 million the Lottery contributed to the Common School Fund for fiscal year 2008.

There are only a handful of lottery companies in the world, and many of the largest ones are owned by companies in foreign countries. How much more money will Illinois residents have to lose to recover the $10 billion leasing fee, plus turn a profit for a foreign-owned Lottery company?

SB 2595 will bind the state in a lease for a minimum of 50 years, which is longer than the 34 years the Illinois Lottery has been in existence. The roads will wear out before the contract expires!

What company would pay $10 billion to lease 80 percent of the Lottery and then operate under the same rules or even more restrictions than the current state lottery?

SB 2595 is the “foot in the door” for an enormous expansion of gambling. Once private owners control 80 percent of the Lottery lease, they will lobby legislators to loosen restrictions. A for-profit operator will expand the Lottery to the Internet, Video Lottery Terminals, Keno, or use future technology to addict people quickly to increase revenue. The Legislature will become dependent on the revenue and would be unable or unwilling to rein in the leased Lottery.

The Lottery is a regressive tax on the poor. SB 2595 could allow a foreign-owned company to further exploit the poor through the Lottery by increasing retail outlets.

Call the Governor (800-642-3112) and your State Senator (217-782-2000) and tell them not to gamble on the future of Illinois – Vote NO to oppose leasing the Lottery.