According to Louisiana lottery officials almost $11 million in lottery winnings in Louisiana went unclaimed in the fiscal year that finished June 30. The previous year, the unclaimed prize money summed $8.5 million.
Bo Bernhard, executive director of the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, considers that prizes are not claimed because people throw out their Mega Millions or Power Ball tickets. Sometimes people just do a quick check and realize they didn’t match the first few numbers. What happens is that people either don’t realize or don’t care, because they usually hope to win big money. It is important to know that matching even a single number could generate prize money of $2 to $4.
Another theory that Bernhard has is that Americans in the cyber age are becoming less efficient when it comes to holding on to physical things, such as small lottery tickets. According to Bernhard this is a world where we no longer collect as much “stuff” in the form of paper records. Therefore he believes that some people just misplace the tickets and forget about them.
Some of the unclaimed prizes are big. In 2011, a $77 million Powerball Jackpot in Georgia went unclaimed. Consequently, those states that sell Powerball lottery tickets could get money back. For Louisiana it was $1.38 million.
Evidently, losing a ticket is a real downer for the big prizes, especially due to the excruciatingly long odds against matching all six Powerball or Mega Millions numbers. It is important to know that for both games, the odds are slightly over 1 in 175 million.
People should be aware of the fact that they have six months to claim prizes for draw-style games such as Mega Millions and Powerball, and 90 days to collect winnings from rub-off tickets.
Prize money not claimed by Louisiana winners goes to the state lottery. Kimberly Chopin, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Lottery Corporation, said the money is then used to increase payouts on scratch-off tickets, second chance drawings and other lottery promotions. Lottery winning numbers
Louisiana paid out $226.2 million in winnings in the past fiscal year, even though that number hasn’t been audited.