What do you mean lottery prizes go unclaimed?

by Carla Bourque

Every day Atlantic Lottery awards an average of 90,000 prizes – both big and small – to Atlantic Canadians.

Whenever there is a big win in Atlantic Canada, it’s plastered on Atlantic Lottery’s website, shared on social media, talked about on the radio and even included in the newspaper. There’s usually local buzz and chatter.

The vast majority of big prizes are claimed because most people are excited to see if their ticket might be the big one. But there are times when big prizes go unclaimed. Surprised? “It’s surprising to us too,” says Shannon French-Demille, Manager, Marketing, Jackpot & Regional Games with Atlantic Lottery.

Expiry dates vary

Many players will check their tickets rights way but players have lots of time to claim their prize.

If you play Atlantic Lottery’s draw games you have one year from the date of the draw to claim any prizes. For sports wagers, you have 744 days from the date of purchase of the ticket to cash it in. Most Scratch’N Win prizes do not have an expiry period, but some have a fixed expiry date. Check the back of your ticket to be sure.

How many unclaimed prizes?

We’re happy that the number of big prizes that expire is quite rare.

“The amount of unclaimed prizes fluctuates, due to daily draws that occur and every time a winner’s claim gets process,” says Laurie Donaher, Supervisor, Disbursement, Finance with Atlantic Lottery. While they don’t all get claimed quickly, nearly all big prizes get claimed.

What happens to unclaimed prizes?

If a prize does expire, for games offered only by Atlantic Lottery, unclaimed prizes are transferred to a special prize fund and are recorded as a reduction to prize expense and used for prizes in subsequent draws.

Unclaimed prizes of national games (Lotto 6/49, Daily Grand, Lotto Max and certain scratch tickets) are administered by the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation.

Better late than never!

“We’re always anxious to meet our big winners. When a winning ticket has been sold in Atlantic Canada, the office gets buzzing. We wait. We wonder,” says French-Demille.

And sometime players wait awhile before they claim. The reasons are varied. Some will wait until they have a few tickets to check; some find a misplaced winning ticket months later; some work away; and some want to seek financial advice. Sometimes it’s hunting season and they’re in the woods!

When a ticket is nearing its expiry date, Atlantic Lottery tries to get the word out to remind folks that there’s a big prize waiting to be claimed. Atlantic Lottery uses social media, reminders at retail and news releases to remind people to check their glove compartments, old jackets and secret hiding places for that ticket that just might be worth more than they expected.

“We hate to see Atlantic Canadians miss out on prizes,” says Donaher “It’s much more fun to give away prizes and celebrate.”