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Illinois Lottery winners sue for interest payments on delayed prizes

A group of Illinois Lottery winners have filed a class action lawsuit seeking interest payments from the state after their prizes were withheld for about five months last year due to the ongoing budget impasse in Springfield.

Lottery payouts of more than $600 had been on hold since July 1, 2015, until Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill freeing up funds for prize money to be distributed starting Dec. 14.

Now the group of 21 winners—who already have cashed prize checks ranging from $1,000 to $2 million—are looking for back payments on the interest those prizes accrued while sitting in state coffers, according to the suit filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.

Illinois Lottery officials could not immediately be reached for comment Friday evening.

The group estimates they represent “thousands” of other winners in the state in claiming the state violated their constitutional rights by holding onto the interest instead of handing it over once prize payouts resumed, the suit says.

B.R. Lane, the lottery’s acting director, is also named as a defendant, along with state comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger and treasurer Michael Frerichs.

The three-count suit seeks back payments and legal fees.