09 March 2016, By Mandy Paterson
What Happens To Unclaimed Lotto Prizes?
1 min read
It may seem incredible to the ordinary Australian, but there are millions of dollars worth of unclaimed lotto prizes every year. According to a report released in September 2015 by Australia’s lottery provider, over $14 million in prize money was still waiting to be claimed at the time of the report.
Seven of those unclaimed prizes were worth over $1 million, and three of those seven were worth over $2 million. How does this happen, you might ask? Lottery officials say they have heard all the excuses in the book – “threw it in the bin by mistake, the dog ate it, my ticket went through the wash, it blew out the car window, I left it in the carry bag and threw the bag out”.
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Fortunately, they added, it was rare for a Division 1 prize to remain unclaimed for a long period of time – it is usually small prize amounts that are left unclaimed. Playing lotto online eliminates the possibility of unclaimed prizes, as all major winners as contacted by Oz Lotteries and all prizes are paid directly into your online account. Handy!
In each state, there are different rules regarding how to claim unclaimed prizes. In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, players have up to six years to claim their winnings from the state lottery provider. After that time, the money goes to the state government. Queenslanders have even longer to claim their prize before it goes to the state government or is used for lotto promotional draws – seven years.
Victorians are lucky in that unclaimed prizes do not expire, but after six months the prize is transferred to the state revenue office from which winners can still claim their money. South Australians have the least amount of time before unclaimed prizes get turned over to the state government and forfeited – 12 months. However winners can file an ex gratia claim to attempt to retrieve their money.
In Western Australia, any prize money which is unclaimed after 12 months will be also be forfeited. Forfeited prizes are transferred to the state government and become available for distribution for community funding purposes.
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