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Illinois lottery winners may have to wait to collect their spoils

Posted June 27

Lottery winners are lucky. In Illinois, they'd better be patient, too.

State lottery officials announced Tuesday that if Illinois doesn't reach a deal to fund the government by the start of the fiscal year on July 1, it won't be able to make payments on time to those who win more than $25,000.

The delay in payouts would take effect on Saturday.

"The General Assembly needs to approve a truly balanced budget that includes Lottery funding in order to ensure all prize payments will occur," said Greg Smith, the acting director of the Illinois Lottery, in a statement.

It's happened before. In 2015, the Illinois Lottery didn't get the funding it needed until December -- meaning the holders of 3,900 winning tickets had to postpone collecting more than $112 million in spoils.

Related: Illinois could soon become America's first 'junk' state

The situation is particularly dire this time around. Absent a budget agreement, the state also plans to cut off Powerball and Mega Millions sales.

Lottery administrators said it would be an "unprecedented step."

Illinois Powerball sales are poised to be shut down at 9 p.m. on Wednesday. Mega Millions sales in the state would be stalled at 9:45 p.m. on Friday.

Illinois' lottery woes are just one sign of how serious its budget crisis has become.

The state, which has already failed to pass a budget for two straight years, has $15 billion in unpaid bills and owes a quarter-trillion dollars to public employees. Standard & Poor's has said it will probably give Illinois a "junk" credit rating if it doesn't hammer out a deal by Saturday.

Neither S&P nor Moody's has ever downgraded a U.S. state to "junk." That rating indicates an increased risk of default.

"Time is running out," Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Tuesday on Twitter. "We have to come together."

-- CNNMoney's Matt Egan contributed to this report.

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