Watch CBS News

Illinois Lottery Claim Center a rare government office that leaves visitors smiling

Visitors leave the Illinois Lottery Center located in Cook County building as winners
Visitors leave the Illinois Lottery Center located in Cook County building as winners 02:29

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago's Pedway - an underground tunnel that's useful to get from here to there but not the prettiest path.

Turns out, it's not all drab down here.

Morning Insider Lauren Victory shows us if you follow the beige floors and flickering lights, you might hit a pot of gold.

Head down the George W. Dunne Cook County Office Building escalator and, like a mirage, it appears: the Illinois Lottery Claim Center.

It's a place of instant happiness. CBS 2 immediately encountered Carl Hill doing a happy dance.

"Heyyy! Heyyy! Big C! Lemme stop because I do have arthritis," he said with a chuckle. Hill calls playing the Illinois lottery his "daily investment" and he finally cashed in with numbers that hit Wednesday night. His take-home check: $1,000.

"Happy, happy. I don't have a wife but I'm gonna look for a girlfriend," said Hill, bursting out laughing again.

"Believe it or not, that's the average customer here," said Luis Rodriguez of Hill's jolliness.

Rodriguez heads up Illinois's five lottery claim centers in Chicago, Des Plaines, Rockford, Springfield and Fairview Heights.

People who win more than $600 need to redeem their prizes in person.

Albert White is okay with that chore.

"I was at work and started jumping up and down," said White who collected a check for $2,500. He plans to pay bills with the money.

"I hope that I can come back because if I come back that means I'm a winner," said Linda Stevens who was coy about sharing her winning amount with CBS 2.

It's excitement that's contagious but remember, we're talking about a state-run facility. So, you'll find the typical to-do list: paperwork, waiting and more paperwork. Still, it beats the Clerk's office (no offense).

"I like this one [government office]. This one feels like money," said Pamela Banks, another winner who preferred not to reveal the amount on her lottery check.

Tinsel and confetti blanket the office's walls now. Previously, white walls and minimal decorations greeted claimants.

"When you win the lottery, it should be a celebration and we wanted to make sure when they came in, they were welcome. That they realize how happy we were to help change their lives," said Rodriguez of the renovations. The City location moved from the Thompson Center to the County building earlier in the pandemic.

Sometimes winners walk away with less money than they thought. Illinois Lottery checks for any state debt before handing over a check.

"Should they owe money, what happens is the comptroller's office will offset the amount that they owe from their winnings, and they'll receive the rest of their winnings. So they still receive their money," explained Rodriguez.

About 150 winners pass through the Chicago location every day.

"I can't imagine another government office where people walk out skipping," said Rodriguez. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.