Ontario: What happens when a winning lottery ticket goes unclaimed?

May 25, 2023 11:29 AM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
May 25, 2023 11:29 AM
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
  • Ontario

It’s a potential nightmare for lottery players: You buy a ticket and life gets in the way, so you forget you have it and it sits in a wallet, a car glove compartment, or in a desk drawer somewhere.

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Then it turns out to be a winning ticket.

In Ontario, Tony Bitonti, spokesperson from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, says someone out there now has a winning ticket for a $70 million LOTTO MAX prize.

The OLG issued a news release yesterday calling for the individual to come forward. All we know is the ticket was purchased at an authorized lottery retailer in Scarborough, Ontario.

OLG has detailed information about the winning ticket. But because it was purchased at a retailer, they don’t know the identity of the person or group who bought it.

That person or group has until June 28 to claim the prize. If the ticket expires, the $70 million will be returned to players through future bonus games or promotions.

The OLG is asking people to call them at 1-800-387-0098 if they think they have the ticket.

Bitonti said that year over year, the OLG pays out 99 percent of the prize money available – $2.6 billion in prizes in 2022. It’s rare for major prizes ($10,000 or more) to go unclaimed, but it does happen. The OLG always sends out news release in the communities where the winning tickets are sold. The OLG has an unclaimed-tickets page, which shows 21 unclaimed prizes as of Feb. 16, 2023, starting at $10,000.

Customers have one year from the draw date for games such as LOTTO MAX, LOTTO 6/49, and LOTTARIO to claim their prize. For INSTANT tickets, the expiry date is a bit longer, one and a half to two years, because INSTANT tickets are printed months in advance of their launch and remain for sales for a longer time.

“The reason we have the expiry date for the tickets is because lottery corporations have to account for the prize money and are unable to wait indefinitely for someone to claim the money,” he said. “However, if the customer has a legitimate reason for making a claim shortly after the expiry date, OLG would do its due diligence on this claim as part of the prize-claim-review process.”

Let’s hope the $70 million winning ticket holder does some spring cleaning – fast.