Unclaimed lottery wins have become a large source of unclaimed money sitting with the state treasuries. It is unbelievable that lottery winnings and jackpots can go unclaimed, but the fact is, every year dozens of hefty jackpots are left unclaimed. Unclaimed lottery winnings have been on the rise and in most of these cases, the efforts to locate the rightful owners of these lotteries have gone in vain.
Most of the states have enacted very practical and lenient laws regarding the claim of lottery winnings. A claim period of 1 year is demarcated for the unclaimed lottery process in states like Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. Some other states have a validity time frame of three to six months. According to a USA Today survey, almost half a billion dollars of unclaimed lottery money was reported last year. Minnesota reported the expiration of a $1.5 million lottery ticket in January, while Oregon reported the expiration of $7.5 million lottery winning in June. Florida has announced that a $3 million worth lottery ticket is going to expire on Christmas Eve.
A few states have reported the actual volume of unclaimed lottery money:
• In 2005 Illinois reported $14 million of unclaimed lottery winnings
• In the same year, Indiana reported more than $5 million of unclaimed lottery tickets
• The state of Massachusetts reported $4.6 million of unclaimed lottery money a few years earlier.
• Connecticut has not had a winning ticket expire without a winner for nearly a decade. But in certain circles, any unclaimed prize is referred to as the Clarence Jackson Jr. jackpot. Mr. Jackson, three days late in turning in the winning $5.8 million ticket in 1996, never got a penny. Of the 1,100 jackpots Connecticut has doled out since the lottery began here in 1972, 11 have gone unclaimed. Between 2008 and 2009, Georgia reported almost $45 millions of unclaimed lottery money.
Many dailies and editors of major newspapers have debated the laws and norms for claiming the unclaimed lottery winnings, and have stressed on the fact that it should be more expansive and flexible and should be pro-lottery-players. Dawn Nettles, editor of The Lotto Report, a newsletter that covers lotteries, blames lottery practices for many of the unclaimed prizes. "It's so frustrating that I can hardly talk about it," she says. Computer scanning errors cost lottery players prizes, she says. A very glaring case of computer enabled lottery check was detected in Ohio in 2006. The computer failed to validate a $267 million winning ticket.
Toledo tax attorney, Mark Mockensturm, who represented the winner, confirms the story. "The computer system at the lottery office in Cleveland didn't read the encoded ink," he says. The ticket was validated in other ways. "The size of the jackpot caused a hiccup in the computer program," Ohio Lottery spokeswoman Marie Kilbane says. The software was fixed, and the ticket was paid. "All's well," she says.
Readily available for the public, and being one of the most popular pastimes of the American people, Lotteries or Lottos are many times governed by rules which are not known to the common man. It is highly recommended that the Lottery players understand the rules and the finer print, so that they don’t lose the opportunity of a life time.
Unclaimed lottery search has seen a spike in recent times and this point to the fact a greater number of Lottery players are in possession of tickets which have gone unclaimed. So, if you are regular lottery player, it is advisable to know the rules of lottery so that you don’t have to waste valuable time later on in locating the unclaimed lottery money.