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History of the Illinois Lottery: 2011 - 2014

Anything's possible, and it seems like everything’s happened. So grab a coffee and dig in.

2012

  • Jan 18 - The first drawing of $2 Powerball is held. Jackpots now start at $40 million, with the match-5# prize growing to $1million ($2 million with Power Play).  Sales in Illinois outpace most other Lottery states, thanks in part to creative, statewide TV advertising developed by Common Ground, a multi-cultural Chicago agency. 

  • January - After a two-month, multi-round review of more than a dozen preeminent general market ad agencies, Downtown Partners/Critical Mass is selected as the Lottery’s new general market agency.  One of its first assignments is to develop “rebranding” advertising with a compelling new tagline, “Anything’s Possible”. 

  • February - Lottery proceeds to the Common School Fund cross $17 billion since inception, an impressive milestone. 

  • March 6 - The lottery launches Mission Move, a $3 “special cause” instant game whose proceeds go “to create a world free of MS.” It is the third offering of a specialty instant game funding Multiple Sclerosis research, and features top prizes of $40,000. The attractive ticket face and POS were designed by common ground, the Lottery’s cross-cultural advertising and marketing agency. To date, nearly $5 million has been raised by the Lottery for MS research.
  • March 17 - The10th Millionaire Raffle drawing is held, creating 509 winners, including four $1-mil winners! Once again, 500,000 available tickets sell out early.
  • March 25 - The Illinois Lottery becomes the first North American lottery to sell tickets over the internet, following a Department of Justice ruling allowing such sales.  Under the 3- to 4-year internet pilot program, sales are strictly limited to adults 18 and over who reside in Illinois, and use an Illinois-based computer to make the purchase. Sales are limited to two games, initially: Lotto and Mega Millions.
  • March 30 - The largest jackpot drawing ever, $656 million, results in three winning Mega Millions tickets sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.  The Illinois ticket is sold in picturesque Red Bud, and is claimed three weeks later by local resident Merle Butler (the other two winners anonymously claimed their prizes within a week).  Butler’s delay in claiming his prize (during which time he assembled a team of legal and financial advisors) focused world-wide attention on Illinois. The local Moto Mart where Butler bought his ticket received a $500,000 bonus ($50,000 of which was given by store owners to store employees), and did a brisk business selling locally produced T-shirts that read “Yes I’m From Red Bud; No, I’m not the Winner.” During the record jackpot run-up, the Illinois Lottery sold $75 million in Mega Millions tickets, generating some $31.5 million for the state’s Common School Fund.
  • April 29 - “Lucky Day Lotto” replaces Little Lotto. The new game retains the familiar 5-of-39 drawing format, with drawings 7 days a week. The rebranded game also includes a new EZmatch, instant-win option (with prizes up to $500) that begins May 13.   
  • May 13 - Governor Pat Quinn and Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones launch a new $3 “Carolyn Adams Ticket for the Cure” instant game at the Y-Me “Race at Your Pace” breast cancer walk in Chicago’s Grant Park.  The ticket and POS were designed by common ground, the Lottery’s cross-cultural advertising and marketing agency, and features top prizes of $40,000. To date, over $8.5 million has been raised by the Lottery for finding a cure for breast cancer.  
  • June 30 - The Lottery ends fiscal year 2012 with record sales of $2.67 billion and transfers of $708.6 million to good causes, including $639.8 million to the Common School Fund, $65.2 million for the Capital Projects Fund, and $3.4 million for special-cause instant games.   
  • August 7 - Red Ribbon Cash, a $3 special-cause instant game, is introduced. As part of the game launch,  a 15-minute documentary on the state of the HIV/AIDS in Illinois is screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. The documentary and instant game ticket-face were created by common ground, the Lottery’s cross-cultural advertising and marketing agency. With the addition of the latest RRC game, the Lottery will have raised nearly $6 million to fund programs that provide HIV prevention, raise awareness and deliver support services to Illinoisans living with the disease.
  • Oct 31 - The 11th Raffle game, Halloween Raffle, sells out on Oct 31, resulting in 509 winning tickets. To date, forty-four $1-million Raffle prizes have been generated.
  • Nov 7 - Governor Pat Quinn and Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones launch a new $2 Veterans Cash instant game at Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.  In conjunction with the launch, three new documentary-style videos are released that contain testimonials from people who have benefitted from the $10 million raised by the Lottery to date for veterans. The videos, ticket face and marketing materials were designed by common ground, the Lottery’s cross-cultural advertising and marketing agency.  The new game is expected to raise an additional $900,000 for veterans. 

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2011

  • March 17 - The 9th Millionaire Raffle drawing is held, creating 509 winners, including four $1-mil winners! Once again, 500,000 available tickets sell out early.

  • April - A 3-game “Cash For Life” family of instant games premieres.  The three scratch-off games (priced at $1, $2 and $5) were designed by Northstar Lottery Group, and offer lifetime weekly prizes of $500, $1,000 and $2,500. 

  • May - The lottery steps up retailer recruitment efforts, and begins installing state-of-the-art Lottery terminals in over 7,400 retail locations across Illinois. 

  • June 30 - The lottery ends Fiscal Year 2011 with total sales of $2.278 billion, the largest single-year sales total in Lottery history. Over $631.8 million is contributed to the state’s Common School Fund; nearly $4 million goes to worthy causes like Illinois veterans and the fight against breast cancer; and over $54 million is contributed to the state’s Capitol Projects Fund. 

  • July 1, 2011 - Northstar Lottery Group officially takes over day-to-day Lottery operations, with the Lottery maintaining oversight and providing key input. The Lottery remains a state entity/asset. Northstar’s compensation (bonuses and/or penalties) will be directly tied to the Lottery’s annual, net-revenue performance. 

  • August 21 - Retailers begin earning a 1 percent cashing bonus for paying out prizes of up to $600. The cashing bonus is expected to provide retailers some $10.5 million in extra compensation per year. 

  • August 22 - Illinois Deputy Lottery Superintendent Victor Golden is named Interim Lottery Superintendent by Governor Pat Quinn. 

  • Sept. 6 - A $200,000,000 Cash Spectacular instant game is launched, the highest payout $10 instant game in Lottery history.  
  • Oct 15 - The Lottery, once again, becomes its own cabinet-level state agency (separating from the Department of Revenue), with Michael Jones named Lottery Superintendent by Governor Pat Quinn.  It is Jones second stint at the Lottery’s helm, having previously served as Lottery chief from 1981-1985. 
  • Oct 27 - The Lottery introduces its first $3 Veteran’s Cash instant game, which features four $40,000 prizes, and 100% of proceeds benefitting Illinois veterans groups. Governor Pat Quinn and Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones hold a Chicago press event that creates substantial statewide media coverage for the ticket/cause.
  • Nov - Holiday Lottery coupons are mailed to 1.8 million Illinois households: coupons include buy 1 get 1 free offers for Lotto, Little Lotto, Mega Millions and Powerball, plus a $1 off coupon for instant game purchases of $5 or more. 

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