New Legislation on Unclaimed Lottery Wins – Will You Claim Your Funds?

After a series of unclaimed Lottery wins, new legislation has been enacted to enable the winners of lotteries to stake a claim to their winnings. Many states are enacting laws which assist the owners of unclaimed Lottery tickets, and additionally utilize the lottery funds for welfare purposes if there is no claim for a long time. In recent times, hundreds of cases of unclaimed lottery jackpots have come to light and the owners of these tickets have been unsuccessful in staking a claim to their funds because of the existing lottery laws.

Even though lottery games, like Powerball, are operated in several states by a central lottery commission, each state has established its own set of rules regarding lottery winnings, including when the money can officially be considered “unclaimed”. When a lottery draw happens, the Powerball officials determine first if there was a winner, and which 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. 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.

The state of Arkansas has seen a new Lottery legislation recently. Under the terms of this new Bill, unclaimed winnings will go to a fund which will then assist programs and projects aimed at helping the personal and social development of persons who are economically or socially disadvantaged, the educational development of persons who are educationally disadvantaged and persons with a disability. The Bill will see all winnings which are unclaimed by the winning party in a period of 12 months from the date they became claimable, paid into the Unclaimed Winnings Fund. Service providers such as bookmakers and lottery operators will be required to keep a register of unclaimed winnings.

Connecticut, like New York and New Jersey, gives players a year to claim lottery prizes; some states let tickets expire after three or six months. Connecticut also allows people to file lost ticket claims and investigate whether the prized ticket might, for instance, have actually been eaten by a dog.

In Michigan, State lawmakers are being asked to prevent any person receiving welfare from winning major Michigan State Lottery prizes. The idea has area residents and business people at odds. If signed into law, the proposed legislation would prohibit a person getting welfare, food stamps, or Medicaid from collecting a lottery prize of more than $600. If the prize were larger, the portion not paid to the winner would go to the state School Aid Fund, as does all unclaimed lottery prize money. House Bill 6534 was introduced Oct. 5 by state Rep. Tom McMillin of Rochester Hills and co-sponsored by House members Jim Stamas of Midland, David Agema of Grandville and Pete Lund of Shelby Township.

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