In 2011, over 200,000 retailers sold tickets for lotteries across the U.S., as reported by Scientific Games. Retailers have much incentive to do so, as they get a commission on each ticket sold, as well as a bonus if they sell a winning ticket. They also get good press from winners, which can then create more business. The biggest sellers are gas stations, liquor stores, and quick marts.
With so many keen players dedicated to purchasing tickets on a weekly, if not daily, basis, it is hard to believe that many prizes go unclaimed around the country. The Illinois Lottery is no exception, with unclaimed prizes in the millions.
Chicago and its suburbs have a big chunk in these unclaimed prizes. And some of these single tickets have large figures on them. One example is a Lucky Day Lotto ticket worth $225,000 purchased in Chicago with a drawing date of January 8, 2013. The smallest unclaimed Lucky Day ticket, bought in Blue Island, Illinois, and with a drawing date in last November, bears a figure of $33,333.
There are currently few unclaimed winning tickets from Mega Millions in comparison to Lucky Day, but they're all worth $250,000. Drawing dates for all three occurred last March, meaning winners only have a matter of weeks to claim their prizes. Extra Shot Lotto has only one unclaimed prize to date, but it's definitely not chump change. The one unclaimed Extra Shot Lotto ticket, bought in Roscoe, Illinois, is worth $6.5 million -- drawing date of August 25, 2012.
How can it be? The Illinois Lottery has reminded the multitudes that these tickets will be expiring, and the winning tickets are worth nothing if they aren't presented within a year from their drawing dates. What happens to all of the unclaimed money from the Illinois Lottery? It's distributed to help Illinois education and schools.