Where the Money Goes

When you buy an Illinois Lottery ticket, the money is split several ways. The biggest portion goes towards paying for the prizes that are on offer, but the main aim has always been to raise funds for good causes.

Profits originally went to the State’s General Fund after the Illinois Lottery was established in 1974, but new legislation in 1985 shifted the direction of proceeds to the Common School Fund. Since 2010, the Lottery has also given money to the Capital Projects Fund to support the state’s roads and bridges.

Breakdown of Revenue

The following table shows how the revenue from sales is distributed. This is the overall breakdown, whether you’ve played a draw game or purchased an Instant Ticket.

Where the Money Goes Percentage of Revenue Allocated
Prizes 65%
Good Causes 25%
Retailer Commissions 5%
Operating Expenses 5%

A slice of the revenue is used to pay for the expenses that come with operating a state lottery, such as supplies, advertising costs, administration fees and so on. Below you can find more information about each of the other categories in the table above.


The majority of the money raised from ticket sales is paid straight back to players as prize money. By giving back such a large share, the Illinois Lottery is able to offer a wide range of prizes across its different games.

When there are exciting prizes to play for, it leads to greater participating and more tickets are sold. This helps to generate more funding for good causes. The Illinois Lottery pays out billions of dollars in prize money every year.

The prize structure is different for each draw game in Illinois. There are daily lotteries such as Pick 3 and Pick 4 where you can select your own wager amount and how to play, and multi-state lotteries with jackpots that can quickly climb into the hundreds of millions of dollars. One Mega Millions ticket sold in Illinois in 2022 was even worth $1.3 billion. Go to the Winners page to find out about the biggest prizes ever paid out.

Good Causes

The Illinois Lottery has contributed more than $24 billion to good causes in the state since 1985. The Common School Fund is the major benefactor, and now receives all of the proceeds from the lottery again outside of speciality scratch tickets.

The funding is critical for K-12 public schools across the state, as it helps to ensure that they all have the resources that are required to create the best possible learning environment for all their students. The most under-resourced students receive most of the support.

In recent years, more than $800 million has been donated to the Common School Fund each year. This works out that the lottery is providing more than a tenth of the total funding for education.

The Capital Projects Fund has also received considerable funding from 2010 to 2022, helping to build and renovate state roads and bridges and supporting communities across the state.

As well as the designated funding for the Common School Fund and the Capital Projects Fund, the Illinois Lottery also sells speciality tickets for some of their instant games. For that particular game, all the proceeds will go to a particular cause, such as Multiple Sclerosis research, the Special Olympics, supporting veterans or the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Retailer Commissions

There is a network of more than 7,000 Illinois Lottery retailers, with employees putting in hard work every day to sell tickets. The reward is that 5 percent of the total revenue comes back to them in the form of commissions and selling bonuses.

All retailers receive commissions for selling tickets, but the biggest payoffs come for those gas stations or convenience stores that create jackpot winners. For example, the Speedway in Des Plaines that sold the Mega Millions ticket worth $1.3 billion received a cash bonus of $500,000.

In total, the Illinois Lottery pays out around $175 million a year to retailers in commissions and selling bonuses.