Pull-tab games

Player Question: I Got This Ticket As A Gift And Can’t Cash It

Unclaimed Prizes_AND_Remaining PrizesIn the past few months, we’ve gotten questions from a few folks who weren’t able to cash the lottery tickets they’d been given as gifts and I’m sharing the background involved here to try to help others avoid that situation.

The latest question came from a woman who emailed us about some scratch tickets she’d gotten as a present. She played the tickets and saw that one of them indicated she’d won a prize. She took the ticket to a local store to cash it and the clerks there told her the lottery terminal couldn’t read the ticket’s results. She emailed us to ask what was going on.

We looked up the details about the game involved and it turns out the tickets she’d received were several years old. The claim period for prizes in the game had expired nearly seven years ago.

She was a good sport about it all and thanked us for our help, saying it would be just her luck to win a prize in such an old game. But we were disappointed for her, and know she was disappointed, too.

Last month, I blogged about a couple items on the Iowa Lottery website that are important when it comes to the prizes in Iowa Lottery games and the timeframes people have to claim them. I’ll highlight the lists again now because they’re important.

First up is the Unclaimed Prizes list where you can see all the prizes of more than $600 in Iowa that are still unclaimed in lotto and InstaPlay games. You can search the list in several different ways – by game, place of purchase, prize amount, date of win, and date of expiration – whichever is most important to you.

Next is the Remaining Prizes list. On that page, you can see the number of larger prizes in our scratch, pull-tab and InstaPlay games, how many of those prizes have been claimed, and the number that remain unclaimed. It’s another important reference item designed to give players insight into the games we have on the market.

For our scratch games and pull-tab games, we also have lists on our website that highlight the current games that are ending and the final date players have to claim prizes in them. There also are lists of the games that have already ended – meaning their prize-claim periods have expired – in the past three years. Click here and here to access those lists.

And if you’re giving lottery tickets to someone as a gift, please be sure they’re from current games.


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As the lottery’s vice president of external relations, I’m a member of the senior management team at the Iowa Lottery, where I’ve worked since 1999. I’ve spent my years at the lottery learning as much as I can about all the ins and outs of the lottery industry. I’ll put that knowledge to work here so I can share the behind-the-scenes details with you!