Welcome Guest
Log In | Register )
The time is now 2:15 pm
You last visited April 23, 2014, 2:11 pm
All times shown are
Eastern Time (GMT-5:00)

Lawmakers going after unclaimed lottery money

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Lawmakers going after unclaimed lottery money
54
Rating:

So a guy walks into a gas station, buys a scratch-off, wins a few bucks, gets distracted with some fool thing and eventually puts the lucky ticket through the wash in his Wranglers. It happens. No big deal.

But for state lawmakers in a tough budget year nationwide, the unclaimed prizes are adding up to a tempting pot of cash.

"It's something we've seen an increased interest in this year," said Jon Griffin, a policy associate at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington.

Around the world, some staggeringly huge jackpots have gone unclaimed in recent years, drawing lots of headlines and more than a few schemes. In 2011, a $77 million Powerball winner let the 180-day deadline expire in Georgia. In California last year, a woman claimed her $23 million prize only after state officials put on a five-month publicity campaign to find the missing winner. In Illinois, officials are still searching for the holder of a $1 million ticket set to expire March 17. And in Britain, seven prizes worth $1.3 million each are set to expire between March and July.

After the prize deadlines lapse — usually within a year, sometimes in as few as 90 days — lottery commissions generally put the money toward future prizes or general state revenues.

For the most part, those policies have remained unchanged since the 1960s, when the modern state lottery movement spread from New Hampshire.

"It was all divided up in terms of who gets the profit," said I. Nelson Rose, a gambling industry expert at the Whittier Law School in California. "They didn't think about what's left over unclaimed."

Now, they are officially thinking about it.

In Albany, for example, a New York Senate committee is considering a proposal to transfer unclaimed prizes to a summer reading program known as the Love Your Library Fund.

In Wyoming, where lawmakers are trying to start a new state lottery agency, the unclaimed prize money has become the subject of an intricate power squabble. Members have been shading the prize legislation to change which agencies controlled the money and whose pet causes would benefit, from gambling addiction programs to assorted social needs and maladies.

Here in Texas, where even a big oil boom has not quite rescued the budget from troubles including a $4.7 billion debt to Medicaid, the unclaimed jackpot money seems to fit that name less and less every year.

Over the past decade, the amount has been going up, peaking at $86 million in 2010.

As the pool of cash expanded, the state developed a complex formula allowing appropriations for teaching hospitals, veterans' services and healthcare in border counties.

Other proposals met resistance. In 2005, one unsuccessful bill would have paid $50,000 to the families of Texas soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last year, the Lottery Commission reported unclaimed prizes of $52 million: $35.6 million from instant games and $16.7 million from draw games.

Though the total amounts to less than a rounding error in the state's proposed two-year budget of $88.9 billion, some strikingly diverse parties have emerged to compete for the money.

"Something like $50 million will get the legislators nuts, because they can all sense, 'That's what a school costs in my district or a bridge or a road,'" said William Thompson, an expert on gambling regulation at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

To state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, $50 million means a chance to send some resources back to the original stated beneficiary of the state lottery, the public schools. His bill would send more to supplement school districts that have low property tax revenues.

"We're still dealing with $5.4 billion in cuts that were imposed by the Republican leadership," Martinez Fischer said. "I think every dollar we can find should be going to educate our schoolchildren."

Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, also kept her request on the modest side. Her bill would stake out $5 million for military veterans' health and education services. Under the current formula, those programs get a maximum of $5 million.

So far, the boldest proposal would carve out $10 million a year to restore the Battleship Texas, which is anchored at the San Jacinto Battleground in the Houston Ship Channel and draws 100,000 visitors annually.

Bruce Bramlett, executive director of a nonprofit foundation devoted to preserving the ship, said leaks in the battleship, which was commissioned in 1914, have caused damage requiring $75 million in repairs.

He said the idea of tapping unclaimed lottery money occurred to him, though he has done little to promote the proposal publicly.

"Loose lips sink ships," he said in an interview.

Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Baytown, who filed the measure, expressed little surprise at the emergence of competition for the unclaimed prize money.

Referring to other lawmakers with rival bills, he added, "Maybe they did their research too."

AP

We'd love to see your comments here!  Register for a FREE membership — it takes just a few moments — and you'll be able to post comments here and on any of our forums. If you're already a member, you can Log In to post a comment.

29 comments. Last comment 1 year ago by helpmewin.
Page 1 of 2
golfer1960's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcRrT_aqD1AR0JipFSPNrYwpV7HY4uVoKxOgcUYLzZ3SEdif
Eatontown, NJ
United States
Member #119675
November 29, 2011
522 Posts
Offline
Posted: March 4, 2013, 8:52 am - IP Logged

I think they should just put the money into the current MM or PB jackpot.

If it's state lottery money then they should roll it into their current jackpot. If it is state scratch off tickets, they should use the money to retire state debts.

However, no way should they figure out a way to "spend" it on their projects. We don't need more government spending I don't care how benevolent the cause.

 

no more spending

    JAP69's avatar - Lottery-053.jpg
    South Carolina
    United States
    Member #6
    November 4, 2001
    8487 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: March 4, 2013, 9:09 am - IP Logged

    Unclaimed lottery funds should be returned to the lottery pool it is unclaimed from.

    Something like pick 3 and 4 unclaimed funds could be returned in bonus payouts until used up. Scratchers go back to maybe reduced ticket cost. pick 5 and up prizes go back into that pool.

    Return it back to the lottery players.

    Stats hunting: Type

      Avatar
      Keokuk,Iowa
      United States
      Member #116508
      September 12, 2011
      302 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: March 4, 2013, 10:40 am - IP Logged

      Politicians ran up the debt,why don't they take a cut in pay & benefits to help pay for it.They should do their part BEFORE looking at the lottery to bail them out of the hole that THEY dug!Average Americans bought lottery tickets to make the jackpots climb and the unclaimed jackpots should be returned to us in some way before we let politicians get their grubby hands on it.


        United States
        Member #116272
        September 7, 2011
        20244 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: March 4, 2013, 10:42 am - IP Logged

        Having an "unclaimed money raffle" each year would create more awareness among lottery players.

          RedStang's avatar - mustangstu zps4c591ef5.jpg
          Dutchess , NY
          United States
          Member #121966
          January 21, 2012
          2319 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: March 4, 2013, 10:44 am - IP Logged

          Right, the money belongs to the players. Our taxes are suppose to pay for the other stuff. That battleship would make a nice fish house.


            United States
            Member #116272
            September 7, 2011
            20244 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: March 4, 2013, 10:46 am - IP Logged

            Right, the money belongs to the players. Our taxes are suppose to pay for the other stuff. That battleship would make a nice fish house.

            I Agree! That's exactly what sinking it would do. Time to sink the tub.

              RedStang's avatar - mustangstu zps4c591ef5.jpg
              Dutchess , NY
              United States
              Member #121966
              January 21, 2012
              2319 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: March 4, 2013, 10:50 am - IP Logged

              Having an "unclaimed money raffle" each year would create more awareness among lottery players.

              What happens if the unclaimed goes unclaimed.

                Avatar
                frontenac, kansas
                United States
                Member #67724
                December 3, 2008
                99 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: March 4, 2013, 11:47 am - IP Logged

                I agree with all on here....any unclaimed prizes should go back into the lottery pool to be given away.  These money grubber politicians just need to forget thier idea and keep their money grubbing hands off of it.   It belongs to the players.

                  joshuacloak's avatar - avatar 23415.gif

                  United States
                  Member #32537
                  February 12, 2006
                  639 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: March 4, 2013, 12:04 pm - IP Logged

                  screw that texas ship , let tourist who go to it, pay for it if they WANT it  to stay that bad.

                   

                  i always want money to be given to us players, in next game, add it to prize pool

                  and i sure think a unclaimed pb/mm jackpot when it goes unclaimed should be put into next full drawing 

                  maybe next one that has 4 days of ticket sales, aka sundday to wed, for boost to sales

                   or they add it to next jackpot to reach 200/300 mark, so for sales, it be like pouring gas into a full fire for  BOOM ,

                  just idea's

                  i don't think  its right we grow jackpots ,only to have state win there own jackpot game due to some moron winning.

                   

                  they already get near almust 40 to 50% of money form our tickets in first place,

                  jackpot prize pool money, should be put back into prize pool, 

                   

                   

                   

                  such a shame that 77m one went unclaimed but thats bound to happen ever now and then with % always never checking there tickets and throwing/losing them out.

                   

                  however as to many states want to keep the money form pb/mm losers, they never allow that rule to be changed, greedy beeps

                  sup

                    Avatar
                    Marquette, MI
                    United States
                    Member #20541
                    August 20, 2005
                    459 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: March 4, 2013, 12:06 pm - IP Logged

                    Yet again answering the question "just how dumb could they get?"

                    Prize money is prize money and should go as prizes somewhere.

                    If they start pilfering it then ticket sales will go down cause players can only take so much nonsense.

                      noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                      Bay Area/ California
                      United States
                      Member #136482
                      December 12, 2012
                      1697 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: March 4, 2013, 12:28 pm - IP Logged

                      Yet again answering the question "just how dumb could they get?"

                      Prize money is prize money and should go as prizes somewhere.

                      If they start pilfering it then ticket sales will go down cause players can only take so much nonsense.

                      Yep- its bad enough that in some States they tax the lottery wins, now they want a bigger piece of the pie. That unclaimed money should be put back into the pool, its not " free money". Someone won that money and just because someone does not come forward & claim it does not mean they have imminent domain over unclaimed winnings....White Bounce

                        Avatar
                        nanaimo,bc
                        Canada
                        Member #93112
                        June 21, 2010
                        22 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: March 4, 2013, 2:10 pm - IP Logged

                        i mho,the unclaimed money belongs to us players , so the lottery corporations should have extra draws and give it back to the lottery players, tax department has taken their share alreadyThinking of...

                          Saylorgirl's avatar - Lottery-065.jpg
                          Indiana
                          United States
                          Member #129230
                          June 13, 2012
                          271 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: March 4, 2013, 2:24 pm - IP Logged

                          Having an "unclaimed money raffle" each year would create more awareness among lottery players.

                          That is a great idea!!  And it returns the money to the players where it belongs!

                            tkr333's avatar - Lottery-058.jpg

                            United States
                            Member #17209
                            June 13, 2005
                            581 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: March 4, 2013, 3:13 pm - IP Logged

                            Politicians ran up the debt,why don't they take a cut in pay & benefits to help pay for it.They should do their part BEFORE looking at the lottery to bail them out of the hole that THEY dug!Average Americans bought lottery tickets to make the jackpots climb and the unclaimed jackpots should be returned to us in some way before we let politicians get their grubby hands on it.

                            I agree cut their pay to a working mans wages,make them pay for thier own gas & vehicles,homes,etc... Then see how quick this country turns around.