$309 million in lottery prizes unclaimed since 1997
There has been $309 million in unclaimed state lottery prizes since 1997, according to data released by the Connecticut Lottery Corporation.
That figure includes unclaimed prize money from both scratch-off lottery tickets and draw games, like Lotto, Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life and Cash 5.
Since fiscal year 1997, there has been $167.758 million in unclaimed funds from draw games and $141.25 million from scratch-off tickets.
Between July and September this year there was $2.69 million unclaimed by lottery winners in Connecticut.
Unclaimed prize money from draw games usually exceeds the amounts in unclaimed prizes from scratch-off tickets, but not always.
For example, in fiscal year 2001 there was $5.721 million left on the table from draw games, and $6.33 million unclaimed from scratch-off games for a total of $12.051 million in unclaimed prize money.
The total amount of unclaimed prize money fluctuates from year to year, though there was a spike in fiscal year 2000. A total of $18.888 million in prize money was unclaimed — $12.713 million from draw games and $6.175 million from scratch-off tickets.
In the case of draw games, prizes expire 180 days after the drawing is held. Scratch-off prizes expire 180 days after each individual game ends, information which is available at ctlottery.org.
That 180-day deadline has been at the center of at least one lawsuit. Clarence Jackson bought a “Quick Pick” Lotto ticket in 1995, and won the $5.8 million jackpot during a drawing on Oct. 13 of that year.
At the time, the agency’s deadline was one full year, and Jackson submitted his claim three days late. He sued, alleging that the Connecticut Lottery Corp. had breached its contract but lost the case.
What the state is allowed to do with unclaimed prize money is defined by statute, as Tara Chozet, spokesperson for the Connecticut Lottery Corp. explained.
“We’re restricted by the statutes in that we can only use unclaimed prize money in three ways,” she said.
Prize money can go back into the state’s general fund, used as the state desires. Unclaimed prizes can also be used to increase lottery ticket sales, usually in the form of a paid promotion or a free-ticket giveaway.
Less often, unclaimed prize money can be used to augment future prizes, making jackpots higher.
When asked if many winners come forward after the deadline has expired, Chozet said no.
“I’m not aware of very many, if at all,” she said.