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Everyone dreams of winning it big someday in the thousands of lotteries available to play throughout the country. The person going to the corner store to buy a snack or fill up their car most likely ends up buying a lottery ticket as well. Millions of dollars are spend each month in lottery tickets in the hopes of winning that multi-million dollar draw. Every lottery player wants to be a big winner but the sad truth is, many of these potential millionaires, do not even come forward to claim their prize. There are people who buy lottery tickets but forget to check the ticket after the draw or misplace it and are unaware that they have won money which is some cases could be millions. These lost or forgotten lottery tickets results in millions of dollars becoming unclaimed.
“Although the winners have lost out, the bright spot in all this unclaimed money is that once the time period expires to claim the winning ticket, which is usually one year in most cases, the unclaimed money goes towards government programs which helps everyone”, says Edward Palonek, founder of Foundmoney.com, a company specializing in helping people find unclaimed money, since 1994.
In Illinois, for example a $200,000 winning ticket purchased in Roundlake, IL expired on March 26, 2012, while a 100,000 purchased in Lagrange, IL will expire on May 12, 2012. Yet another winning ticket for $250,000 is about to expired on June 7, 2012, that was purchased in Crete, IL.
“It would appear that there many people with a winning ticket in their pocket and in a few very lucky cases, they could be millionaires and not even known it. In these tough economic times, don’t be one of the unfortunate ones that end up walking away from millions of dollars because you forgot to check your tickets for unclaimed winnings” says Palonek.
Elected officials are even starting to take notice of the millions in unclaimed lottery tickets. Sen. Joseph Zarelli, in Washington, has introduced measures that illustrate the range of reforms he says legislators can and should adopt during the 2012 session to continue moving state government toward financial stability.
According to Sen. Zarelli, his recent Senate Bill 6379 would change the fate of unclaimed state-lottery winnings, which are now split between the lottery commission (two-thirds, for future prizes) and the economic development strategic reserve account controlled solely by the governor (one-third). This legislation would move all unclaimed winnings to the general fund – an estimated $18 million per year.
Zarelli said “the revenue returned to the general fund by SB 6379 would be enough to "buy back" cuts in the governor's proposed budget to services for the elderly, including adult day care services to assist with daily living, reimbursement rate reduction to agency providers, and Meals on Wheels.”
"This is an example of what I mean about the Legislature reprioritizing to make better use of existing revenue. Why ask voters for new revenue when these dollars can be used for what I would view as core services of government?" says Sen. Zarelli.