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The Illinois Lottery began July 1, 1974 amid great excitement across the state. During its first years, it sold "passive" games via weekly drawings. First year sales topped $129 million. Sales faltered in subsequent years, after the novelty of the Lottery wore off, prompting some to call for an end to the Lottery. In 1980 the first terminal game, Pick 3, was introduced. Pick 3 breathed new life into the Lottery, tallying sales of $164 million during its first full year of operation.
Lottery profits initially went to the State's General Revenue Fund, until legislation was passed in 1985 earmarking profits for the Common School Fund, which is still the Lottery's major benefactor. 2006 saw the first "specialty instant games" launched; these games benefit a particular cause like Illinois Veterans, the fight against breast cancer, MS research, and assistance for people living with HIV-Aids. In 2010, the Lottery began contributing to the Capitol Projects Fund, which helps build and renovate state roads and bridges.
The Lottery has been an independent, cabinet-level department for most of its history, although it operated under the Department of Revenue (DoR) on two separate occasions. Most recently, the Lottery separated from DoR on October 15, 2011. It has a current operating budget of about $30 million a year and employs 152 people, including 80 employees who take their direction from the Lottery's private manager, Northstar Lottery Group. With Northstar's assistance, the Lottery launched an internet sales pilot project for Lotto and Mega Millions on March 25, 2012, when it became the first US lottery to sell tickets on the internet.
The Lottery operates under the direction of its Director, BR Lane, and is assisted by the Lottery Control Board. It operates from locations in Chicago, Springfield, Des Plaines, Rockford and Fairview Heights.
Lottery Prize Center is a lottery retailer located in Chicago, IL.