Lines, delays greet lottery winners seeking prize money

  • Illinois Lottery ambassadors assist a woman in front of the lottery office in Des Plaines on Wednesday.

    Illinois Lottery ambassadors assist a woman in front of the lottery office in Des Plaines on Wednesday. JOE AGUILAR | Staff Photographer

  • JOE AGUILAR/jaguilar@dailyherald.comIllinois Lottery ambassador Eric Madarik, middle, assists a man in front of the state lottery office in Des Plaines on Wednesday.

    JOE AGUILAR/jaguilar@dailyherald.comIllinois Lottery ambassador Eric Madarik, middle, assists a man in front of the state lottery office in Des Plaines on Wednesday.

  • JOE AGUILAR/jaguilar@dailyherald.comIllinois Lottery winners wait outside the state lottery office in Des Plaines on Wednesday.

    JOE AGUILAR/jaguilar@dailyherald.comIllinois Lottery winners wait outside the state lottery office in Des Plaines on Wednesday.

 
 
Updated 7/1/2020 7:14 PM

Some Illinois Lottery winners have waited more than three months to receive their prize money because of coronavirus-related closures.

But even as the lottery office in Des Plaines reopened Wednesday morning, winners had to wait again, and many were turned away and told they could come back today after the facility reached its capacity for processing. About 250 people were able to receive their checks.

 

Lottery offices in Springfield, Rockford and Fairview Heights also reopened as part of the state's Phase 4 plan. The offices had been closed since March. The claim center in the concourse of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago remains closed.

Officials started turning people away at the Des Plaines building around 11:30 a.m. A "virtual lobby" was set up outside to respect social-distancing, and fewer than 25 people were allowed inside at one time. Lines started forming more than an hour before the building opened its doors at 8:30 a.m.

When Delores Baker arrived from Chicago's South Side shortly before 10 a.m., the line stretched about 100 feet.

"The line was ridiculous," said Baker, who waited for two hours and left without her money.

"Crazy," added Samqueta Johnson of Round Lake Beach, who was there with her husband to collect $10,300 for three winning tickets. She also left without receiving her money.

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What drew the ire of some people, including Baker, was there was no information on the Illinois Lottery website saying it would accommodate only a certain number of people.

When winners arrived, they got in line to receive a voucher, which was scanned by a lottery official. The winners could wait outside or in their cars until they received a text message alerting them they could enter the building. As a goodwill gesture, lottery officials handed out hats, bags and scratch-off tickets.

"People were impatient because they want their money," said one lottery official who requested anonymity. "They've been waiting (almost) four months."

Cameron Phillips took a bus from Chicago, got to the state lottery building at 7:30 a.m. and waited about two hours for his voucher. He didn't receive his check until after noon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I expected to be done way before 12," said Phillips, who waited patiently in a shaded area.

The lottery office opens at 8:30 a.m. today, and winners are encouraged to arrive early to get in line. The office will be closed Friday due to the Fourth of July holiday. It is closed Saturday and Sunday.

To claim a prize by mail, visit www.illinoislottery.com/winning.

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