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Lottery Sales Sink As Other Gambling Options Take Off

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Something troubling is brewing at the Illinois Lottery.

And it's leading to millions of dollars missing for the state.

As sports wagering emerges in Indiana and online gambling expands in Illinois, the outfit that gets us to scratch and win may be scratching their heads.

CBS 2's Chris Tye has the story you'll see only on CBS 2.

If you believe lotteries sell hope, business is spotty.

CBS 2 dug in and found out that in in the last six months of 2018, the lottery pumped 344 million dollars into the state school fund.

In the last six months of 2019, it fell to 280 million. An 18% drop totaling 64 million fewer dollars.

"I think the progress report has come in with these numbers," said David Greising of the Better Government Association said the progress report is for Camelot, the private company hired to run Illinois' lottery for 26 million dollars a year.

Whose general manager 18 months ago predicted to Crain's Chicago a 3.5% sales increase.

"These numbers are new, but these problems at the Illinois lottery are not new," said Greising.

Lottery officials claimed a late year infusion of revenue wasn't included in the state report. It would've cut the 64 million dollar dip by more than half.

And a record breaking Mega Millions in 2018 artificially boosted that year's numbers.

And some are forecasting it could get worse before it gets better. Illinoisans use discretionary dollars to spend on the lottery, and as we all know, a big new lane of discretionary spending emerged in Illinois.

"I have this kind of fun money. The choice is do people want to get high or do I want to gamble? When economic times get tight they probably can't do both," Greising said.

Illinois has surgically focused on casinos and marijuana lately, but it may just be the 46-year-old Illinois Lottery in need of a check-up.

"If as some think a recession will hit in late 2020, those numbers will really start to go down," noted Greising.

CBS 2 asked the lottery and the private company now managing the lottery to go on camera Tuesday. Both declined the request.

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