February 11, 2016

Property owners benefit from unclaimed lottery prizes

Property owners benefit from lotto winners who, for whatever reason, don’t claim their winnings.

Annually, about $2 to $4 million worth of lottery prizes in Wisconsin go unclaimed for a variety of reasons. “People lose the tickets; people may not understand that in some of the big jackpot games there are smaller prizes that they can win; other people who may live farther away and have some issue with how they might go about claiming small prizes might just say ‘oh for the cost of a stamp I’m not even going to mail this in to win $4.00’ or something like that. So, there are a whole host of reasons why people may not claim prizes.”

Andrew Bohage with Wisconsin Lottery says unclaimed dollars are sent to the lottery’s property tax relief fund. “Whatever we have for unclaimed prizes in a given year just goes in to the lottery fund. That is then turned back over to property tax payers. You’ll see that then show up on your property tax bill as a lottery tax credit.”

There’s a lot of unclaimed money from Powerball, Mega Millions, Megabucks, Supercash, Badger 5, Pick 3 and Pick 4, but Bohage says it’s not nearly as much as they pay out to game winners. Last year, for example, they paid $329 million in prizes. So, he says, nearly $3 million in unclaimed prizes is minuscule — less than 1 percent of the paid amount. He says 99 percent of lottery prizes from last year were paid. Winners have 180 days to claim a prize.

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