Unclaimed UK National Lottery prize money rose to a record £100 million (US$182 million) last year, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport confirmed today.
The figure — the highest since the game was launched — was up from £73 million (US$133 million) the previous year.
After 180 days all unclaimed prize money plus the interest accrued goes to the National Lottery Distribution Fund, the DCMS said.
The money is then allocated to good causes around the country.
Lottery operator Camelot said the unclaimed money related to prizes won in the Lotto draw, Lotto Hot Picks, Lotto Extra, EuroMillions, Daily Play, Thunderball and on scratchcards. It also included unclaimed prizes from Instant Win online.
The largest unclaimed prize in the year 2004 to 2005 was £7,039,469 (US$12.8 million) from the Lotto Extra draw on August 7, 2004, Camelot said.
The winning ticket was bought somewhere in Belfast City and matched all six numbers. But the winner failed to come forward by the deadline of February 3, 2005.
Camelot said the upturn in Lottery ticket sales had contributed to the increased number of unclaimed prizes.
“National Lottery ticket sales are at their highest level since 1997 and we are currently paying out around four million prizes a week,” the operator said.
“Camelot regularly issues appeals for winners of unclaimed prizes to come forward to claim their cash — and we are obviously always keen to unite them with their prizes.
“We have a dedicated team of sleuths who are committed to tracking down those lucky winners and encourage them to come forward to claim their prize.”
Ticket holders should check their numbers every time they play, the operator advised.