D.C. Lottery Director Buddy Roogow said it is likely the lack of payouts is going to affect sales — another hit for a lottery that has been unable to introduce new lottery tickets for two months due to a contract dispute.
“I do think it’s going to hurt us,” he said. “We’re trying to make people aware we’re going to honor everything. Every day we’re unable to redeem tickets is a problem for us.”
The city is barred from spending its $6 billion a year in locally generated funds because under the city’s four-decade-old Home Rule charter its budget must still be appropriated by Congress.
While Mayor Vincent C. Gray has tapped at $144 million contingency reserve fund to keep many government functions going, a wide variety of payments have been halted — including Medicaid transfers and the city’s Metro subsidy, among others.
Roogow said the decision to stop paying out lottery prizes comes after a change in legal interpretation by the city. Though the lottery uses only player money for prizes, he said, it was determined the “safest course” legally would be to stop payouts.