Unclaimed lottery tickets leave millions of dollars on the table
BY CURTIS KILLMAN World Staff Writer
Friday, November 23, 2012
11/23/12 at 8:04 AM
Read more: Find information about the Oklahoma lottery.
The clock is ticking on two lottery tickets sold in Tulsa.
A Powerball lottery ticket sold at a Tulsa convenience store and valued at $10,000 will be expiring Dec. 3.
The winning ticket was sold at QuikTrip at 9037 S. Yale Ave for a June 6 drawing.
Another ticket, this one for the Mega Millions lottery, is worth $250,000 and has yet to be redeemed.
The Mega Millions ticket was purchased at the Kum & Go at 11296 E. 71st St. for the Sept. 21 drawing. The holder of that ticket has until March 19 to claim his or her prize.
The Mega Millions ticket would rank as one of the biggest unclaimed prizes in Tulsa, if no one comes forward with it.
The truth is though, millions of dollars in state lottery winnings are never claimed.
In fiscal 2012, which ended June 30, $4,182,200 in winnings were never claimed, according to state lottery officials.
The first $500,000 in unclaimed funds is transferred each fiscal year to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The agency uses the funds for treatment of compulsive gambling disorder and related educational programs.
The balance is used for future lottery prizes.
Lottery officials have never had a problem meeting the $500,000 threshold. In fact, the amount unclaimed was $6.5 million as late as fiscal 2009. But the amount in unclaimed winnings has declined nearly 36 percent since fiscal 2009.
Several factors may contribute to a reduction in the unclaimed prize fund, said Rollo Redburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Lottery Commission.
"Up and down" lottery revenues in recent years may be one reason, Redburn said.
Also, the lagging economy may have resulted in more tickets with smaller values being redeemed. In better economic times those tickets may have been lost or simply not cashed, Redburn said.
"But the big thing is the players are getting smarter," he said.
The most expensive ticket never redeemed in the state was a Powerball ticket sold in fiscal year 2010 in Enid, worth $1 million.
In Tulsa, Powerball tickets valued at $10,000 each went uncashed in fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2010, Redburn said.
Scratch-off winners have 90 days to redeem a winning ticket. Winning online game tickets, which include Powerball and Mega Millions, must be redeemed within 180 days.
State law also requires the lottery commission to check whether winners of prizes more than $600 owe child support, debts to the state Tax Commission or state Employment Security Commission.
So far, $206,522 in unpaid child support debt has been deducted from 128 winning lottery tickets. Another $91,890 in state Tax Commission debt has been deducted from winners' tickets, records show.
Unclaimed lottery prize money
Original Print Headline: Unclaimed lottery winnings in the millions
Curtis Killman 918-581-8471