It can be an uncomfortable subject to tackle, but we’ve had a lot of questions about set-asides (commonly known as offsets) lately, so we’re taking this opportunity to explain them further.
Sometimes winners come into our offices who owe money to the state for whatever reason; sometimes money is owed for judicial fines, court costs, child support, etc. By law, the Iowa Lottery is required to withhold those debts from the player’s winnings.
Here’s how it works:
An offset database that is available to all state agencies and even some city agencies (if they’re owed money). Within state government, there is an offset department that collects the debts and distributes the money to the appropriate agencies when they are paid.
At the lottery, we’re required to run our winners’ information against that database before we can write them a check. If the computer finds a set-aside in the database, that money is automatically deducted from the check. Our validations associates never get to see the database, and aren’t even aware of any set-asides until the check has printed. It is an automatic process that is required by Iowa law.
If players feel they no longer owe money to the state, they are given a contact within the offset department or the agency requesting the set-aside to investigate the case and possibly refund that money.