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State Government

Illinois to end relationship with lottery vendor

CHICAGO – Illinois will end its contract with the private vendor that operates the $2 billion-a-year state lottery over "serious concerns" with company performance, state officials announced Friday.

Gov. Pat Quinn directed the Illinois Lottery to end its relationship with Northstar Lottery Group three years into a 10-year contract, spokesman Grant Klinzman said in a statement.

Questions over Northstar's performance aren't new. The company hasn't reached the ambitious sales promises it used to win its bid to the state in 2010.

"The administration has had serious concerns with Northstar's performance," Klinzman said in an email. "The state is in the process of finalizing a path that will allow the Lottery to move on, improve profits and increase funding for education and economic development across the state."

Illinois Lottery spokesman Mike Lang said the lottery supported the Quinn administration's direction and that lottery services and products would remain available during the transition to a new manager.

Chicago-based Northstar officials didn't immediately respond Friday to messages from The Associated Press.

Northstar officials have said that the state made some things harder, such as canceling games it wanted to launch to prohibiting the sponsorship of Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival in 2013 because of headliner R.Kelly.

Quinn's office declined to address those questions Friday.

Northstar officials have acknowledged that they didn't meet goals, but that there were some successes. That included raising lottery profits by almost 10 percent in 2012. Some store owners noted improved customer service.

Northstar promised contributions of $1 billion to the state in the fifth year of its contract when it took over the 40-year-old Illinois Lottery, but it has fallen far short. The money was supposed to go to schools, charitable organizations and a capital construction program.

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