Illinois Lottery’s Unwelcome Surprise
July 3, 2013 – Just days ahead of the Illinois Lottery’s most spectacular 4th of July celebration to date, with Lottery-sponsored fireworks displays planned in five cities across the state, Illinois Auditor General William Holland pointed out something incredible about the Lottery itself.
Financial bookkeeping errors amounting to somewhere near $200 million – a headache for the Lottery not likely to be helped by all those fireworks set for tomorrow night.
Holland’s audit report for the Lottery’s past fiscal year identified “material weaknesses” in internal financial controls which led to the record-keeping errors.
Both human errors in recording and reporting finances and computer processes which collect and analyze data for the Lottery are compromised, according to Holland’s report.
In fact, the report found that the Lottery’s computer systems are not properly password protected, and suggests increasing the complexity of passwords to assure security of the Lottery’s information.
Michael Jones, the director of the Illinois Lottery, attempted to place blame on Lottery vendor Northstar Lottery Group, saying that most of the lottery’s financial records came from the private contractor.
Northstar rebutted the claim, saying that the audit dealt only with the record-keeping practices of the Lottery itself.
The back and forth between the Lottery and Northstar is only the latest in a string of arguments between the two.
The Lottery was fined $20 million in March after failing to meet its revenue projections for the second year in a row.
Jones also cited the Lottery’s recent transition to a private entity as a potential cause for the computer errors.
State lawmakers expressed their concern about the Lottery’s financial record-keeping to The Chicagoist, making clear they weren’t following Jones in blaming Northstar for the errors.
Rep. David Harris said the Lottery “needs to pay more attention to internal financial controls,” and Rep. Fred Crespo told The Chicagoist that no matter what caused the errors, “the figures are concerning.”