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June 24, 2014

Winning big on the lottery is a pipe dream

Illinois gambled, and lost.

The state did a mediocre job running its lottery, so leaders decided to privatize the work. However, the private company hired by Gov. Pat Quinn to boost results has fallen short of its promises for three years in a row now.

Not just a little short, but a lot.

Northstar Lottery Group promised sales of $3.5 billion in fiscal 2014 and instead produced $2.6 billion. It promised net revenue of $980 million and instead generated $760 million.

Northstar points out that it's doing better than the state did, but the company won its 10-year contract based on specific performance promises.

After three years of falling short, it's clear that Northstar is never going to live up to its promises. Besides the subpar numbers, the state and Northstar have a chilly working relationship -- arguing about everything from what games should be allowed to whether Northstar's business plan is public record.

Under the terms of the contract, Quinn could end it right now and start over. The trouble is, there's no reason to believe he would pick any better the second time around than he did the first.

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