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It may be hard to believe, but lottery money goes unclaimed all the time. So many people lose their tickets or forget to get check their numbers, and they never even realize that all those millions of dollars are sitting there, just waiting from them to pick them up (and in this case, perhaps ignorance is bliss - if you missed the chance to grab a lottery jackpot, would you even want to know?). Just what happens to all of those unclaimed millions though?

Even though lottery games like Powerball are operated in several states by a central lottery commission, each state has its own rules regarding unclaimed winnings, and even when the money can officially be considered “unclaimed.” When a lottery draw happens, the Powerball officials determine first if there was a winner, and then in what state the winning ticket was purchased. The winnings are then distributed to the state lottery commission, who is responsible for getting the cash to the winner. Each state has its own guidelines regarding how long that money can sit before the winner forfeits their chance, and the time given to winners to claim their prize varies extremely widely. In some states, winners have only 90 days before their ticket is considered invalid, and in other states, winners can take up to a year to claim their cash. This variance in policies has led to plenty of confusion for lottery winners over the years, and some experts want to see a blanket ordinance put into place.

When the money is officially declared unclaimed, according to the particular state’s procedures, a few different things can happen to the money, based on what kind of prize it is. If the money was not a jackpot win or a bonus play win, then the money is kept by the state in which the winning ticket was sold. The state can’t just do anything with the money, though. It must put half of the money back into funding lottery games, and the other half must go into the state’s general fund. Most states have unclaimed money earmarked for a specific purpose, like Kentucky’s Educational Excellence Scholarship reserve fund, or Arizona’s Court Appointed Special Advocate program.

If the unclaimed money is a jackpot win or a bonus win, it is handled a little differently. Unclaimed money that falls under this heading is reclaimed by the central Multi-State Lottery board and then distributed among the states that participate in the lottery based on the proportion of the tickets that were sold in the state. The state that sold the most tickets gets the biggest piece of the pie, and so on. The states usually have legislation on the books earmarking money received in this way for specific purposes as well, spending a portion of the winnings on their lottery program and the rest on state public programs.

What happens to unclaimed lottery money is a hot button issue between pro lottery and anti lottery groups, so there is usually little wiggle room in policies, which dictate what happens to lottery cash. Many states have independent watchdog groups, which oversee lottery expenditures and make sure the money is being used in the way in which the law dictates.

Of course, who wants to leave lottery money unclaimed? If you want to play the lottery, make sure you know the rules and requirements in your state when it comes to claiming lottery money. Otherwise, that winning ticket won’t be worth the paper it is printed on.

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From: really
Comment: The article has nothing to do with the title. I suggest less alcohol.

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