A couple players have come to lottery headquarters here in Clive this month with tickets that were expired – meaning the date had passed by which prizes could be claimed in those games. The players wanted to know if we could still cash the tickets anyway. The quick answer is no, and here are the details why.
One of the players had a ticket from a couple years ago and the other had a ticket older than that. In another instance earlier this year, someone sent us a ticket from one of the Iowa Lottery’s first scratch games from the 1980s and wondered if the prize from it could still be claimed.
From a record-keeping perspective, the lottery establishes end dates for its scratch and pull-tab games and the corresponding expiration dates for prizes in them. There also are deadlines for claiming prizes in our lotto games (365 days from the date of the drawing in Powerball®, Mega Millions®, Hot Lotto®, and Lucky for Life®; and 90 days from the date of the drawing in Iowa’s Pick 3 and Pick 4 games).
Technology has changed so much that our equipment today can’t check tickets from years ago. We have to keep on hand a tremendous amount of electronic data so that lottery tickets can be checked and cashed statewide. And simply from a space perspective – physical or electronic – it’s not possible to maintain decades’ worth of the detailed records necessary for a lottery prize to be claimed. Those realities dictate that there are deadlines by which lottery prizes must be claimed.
Money from unclaimed prizes here in Iowa goes into the lottery’s prize pools for future games and promotions, so it will be used to pay prizes, just not those prizes that have expired.
We keep a lot of information on our website to help you track our games and the prizes in them. For our pull-tab and scratch games, we provide: 1.) details about the games currently for sale statewide; 2.) a listing of those games where ticket distribution has recently ended; 3.) the deadlines by which prizes must be claimed in games that have official end dates; 4.) and lists of those games that have ended and in which prizes can no longer be claimed.
For our lotto games, we provide details about our current games available statewide and a list of prizes of $600 or more that are still unclaimed.
Bottom line, if you have won a lottery prize, please claim it quickly so you don’t have to worry about things like games that have ended and prizes that have expired. And keep your winning ticket in a safe place, because you’ll need to present it to us to claim the prize involved!