The Washington Post

Shutdown halts D.C. Lottery prizes

D.C. Lottery winners won’t get paid till the shutdown ends. (Jeffrey MacMillan/For Capital Business)

A new entry on the long list of local shutdown victims: D.C. Lottery winners.

Starting Saturday and until further notice, the lottery announced Friday, no winning lottery tickets will be cashed. They will, however, still be sold, and winners will be honored after the shutdown ends.

That goes for both instant tickets and numbers games, though draws will continue in the latter case.

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.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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