CHICAGO - In the news this weekend is Illinois' Powerball amount rocketing to $151 Million to one winner in next Wednesday's drawing. A mention of Illinois lottery also brings to mind Illinois' "don't-privatize" lottery chief Mike Jones.
With the recent spate of below-zero temperatures, many Illinoisans are probably looking for a getaway to greener lands. Unfortunately, because of the nearly 9% unemployment rate and stagnant economy, most responsible citizens are hanging on to the money they would have spent on that mid-winter cruise and putting it to better use - or at least socking it away in a savings account for when Illinois taxes finally exceed their income.
But lest you were worried that Illinois bureaucrats were suffering the same fate as Illinois citizens, fear not. It seems despite the state's fiscal insolvency and burgeoning financial crisis, we are still sending our low-level bureaucrats on international vacations. Remember our friend Mike Jones who was spending taxpayer money jet-setting across the world giving lectures about how awesome he is? Well, he's headed to the UK for a swanky conference. But at least you have snow to shovel!
The show will be in London's ExCel center, nestled in among London's Royal Docks with "striking views of the waterfront." The conference features some of the largest gaming companies from around the globe, each competing to fete honored guests and speakers with parties, events and happy hours designed to promote their own innovations in online and land-based gaming. But it's not all work. Aside from parties hosted by individual gaming retailers, the conference itself invites guests to rub shoulders with gaming bigwigs in London's incredible O2 Arena. And if Jones gets thirsty, ICE even features two officially sanctioned event pubs with happy hours and their own schedule of events.
Right now, round trip flights to London are hovering at around $800, with room and board putting the cost at significantly more. It may not seem like much, but remember, Jones spent 2012 traveling the globe, using the Illinois Lottery as an excuse to give himself a world tour. And it looks like he's starting 2013 the same way.