Retailers suffer during Illinois Lottery system upgrade

The Illinois Lottery's transition to a new central gaming system has caused trouble for some retailers, including overpayments to winners.

The ticket validation issue was discovered Feb. 20 and resolved the same day, said Illinois Lottery spokesman Jason Schaumburg, who didn't know how much extra money was awarded.

Stores that paid out incorrect winnings can be reimbursed if they submit a written account of the error to the central lottery office in Springfield, said Bill Fleischli, the executive vice president of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association and Illinois Association of Convenience Stores.

Most retailers only cash winning tickets that are less than $600, the lottery said. Winners otherwise have to claim prizes at a prize center or contact the lottery directly by mail or through the phone.

Some retailers also reported that they were unable to sell scratch-off tickets through vending machines, Fleischli said. The issue won't be resolved until the machines are replaced, but retailers can sell the tickets through a clerk, he said.

Many Chicago-area stores have received updated machines, but locations downstate are still waiting, Fleischli said. Illinois Lottery officials plan to have the machines replaced by April, he said.

"A few of our members have expressed a concern to me, and I have expressed it to the lottery," Fleischli said. "They are working as hard as they can to get these machines installed and operating."

The issues arose as the lottery was installing new equipment and launching a new website and app.

"This is one of the largest technology and retail transitions ever undertaken by any U.S. lottery, and we're confident this will significantly improve the lottery experience for players and businesses when it is fully implemented," Schaumburg said.