Winning tickets may be claimed as soon as the drawing has taken place and winning numbers and prize data from that drawing have been verified and loaded onto the retailer terminal system. For games with drawings that take place in Louisiana (Lotto, Easy 5, Pick 3 and Pick 4), this usually occurs between 9:45 p.m. and 10 p.m. For the multstate games Powerball and Mega Millions, the Lottery must have clearance from game administrators before enabling prize payment. This typically occurs between midnight and 1 a.m. Remember, only winning tickets worth up to $600 can be paid at retailer locations.
According to the Lottery's statute, unclaimed prize money is returned to players in the form of prizes and promotions, such as increased payouts on scratch-offs and additional second-chance promotions.
As soon as all of the top prizes in a game have been claimed, the Lottery immediately begins the process of pulling unsold tickets from retailer shelves and closing the game. Games may also be closed when all of the tickets have been substantially sold or at the discretion of the Lottery's president.
Both the federal and state government consider winnings from all forms of gaming to be income for tax purposes. By law, the Louisiana Lottery must report winnings from each single ticket with a prize value over $600 to the Internal Revenue Service and the Louisiana Department of Revenue and Taxation.
Income tax regulations require the Louisiana Lottery to withhold 25 percent federal taxes from each prize over $5,000 and 5 percent state taxes from prizes of $5,000 or more.
A gambling income statement, W2-G, is attached to all prize payment checks of $600 or more and should be retained by winners for income tax purposes.
Players should sign the back of their ticket for security purposes, secure their ticket and treat it as cash. We also recommend that players who believe they hold a Powerball, Mega Millions or Lotto jackpot-winning ticket contact the Lottery's headquarters immediately at 800-735-5825 to schedule a time to claim their prize and so that we can answer any questions they may have. This facilitates a smooth payment of jackpot prize. Players who believe they hold a jackpot-winning ticket must bring the ticket to the Lottery's corporate headquarters in Baton Rouge for verification and any prize payment. The Lottery recommends that before coming to claim a jackpot prize, winners get financial advice so they fully understand the tax or other legal implications involved.
If you win more than $600 and are therefore required to claim your prize at a Lottery office, you will be required to complete a claim form for tax purposes. Under the Lottery's statue, all prize payment records are open records, meaning that the public has a right to request the information. Depending upon the amount won and public or media interest in the win, winners may NOT be able to remain anonymous. The statute also allows the Lottery to use winners' names and city of residence for publicity purposes such as news releases. The Lottery's regular practice is not to use winner information in paid advertising or product promotion without the winner's willingness to participate.
Published game odds apply to the entire game overall. They do not mean, in this case, that every fourth ticket is a winner. Lottery games are games of chance, so winning scratch-off tickets are randomly distributed throughout the game. Just imagine what would happen to the integrity of Lottery games if it was known which tickets were winners prior to their sale.
All of the Lottery's games are games of chance. Drawing games are conducted using random number generation. This means that every number combination has an EQUAL chance of being selected for every drawing, REGARDLESS of whether or not it was drawn in the past. If number combinations that were drawn in the past were removed from play, the game would be unfair.
Even assuming that number combinations could be eliminated, it would take 1,000 drawings, or 2.8 years, for every possible Pick 3 combination to be drawn. For Pick 4, it would take 10,000 drawings or 28 years.
On occasion, certain popular Pick 3 and Pick 4 numbers may "sell out" and cannot be purchased. Unlike other draw-style Lottery games, Pick 3 and Pick 4 pay out an established prize regardless of how many tickets are winners. In order to adequately fund these fixed prizes, the Lottery establishes a prize liability limit on these games and restricts sales of tickets for such drawings if the liability limit would be exceeded by the drawing of any particular numbers. Liability limits usually take effect when a large number of people have chosen a certain number, such as 9-1-1 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack or 2-0-0-0 when the millennium ended. There is no need for sales restrictions on Easy 5, Lotto Mega Millions or Powerball numbers, since jackpots are pari-mutuel, meaning the jackpot is divided equally among all its winners.
The largest jackpot won in Louisiana was $97 million, claimed by Carl Hunter of Metairie in January of 2008. The largest Powerball jackpot ever won was $590.5 million in the May 18, 2013 drawing, claimed by Gloria C. MacKenzie of Zephyrhills, Fla.
The Robert H. LeBas Family Partnership of Church Point won $21.2 million, which was the largest jackpot won on a single ticket. The largest multi-winner jackpot was $31 million and was split between Kimberly D. Hall of Bon Wier, Texas, and Roland and Marion LeBeouf Family Partnership of Houma, with each receiving $15.5 million. These jackpots were paid as annuities. The largest single-payment winner was Timothy M. Smith of Marrero, who won $15.6 million.
No. Each state participating in Powerball or Mega Millions contributes a percentage of sales to fund the jackpot. As in all other games, the Louisiana Lottery Corporation transfers to the state treasury 35 percent of all sales of Powerball and Mega Millions tickets at Louisiana Lottery retailer outlets no matter where the top prize is won.
Illegal lottery scams are ever present. To protect yourself from becoming a victim:
Never give your credit card numbers, bank account numbers or social security numbers over the phone or over the Internet to a business promising lottery jackpots.
Never accept a collect phone call from someone claiming to be a lottery official. Legitimate lotteries do not call collect.
Never believe a letter, phone call or Internet message from someone who offers you a guarantee of winning a prize or a secret system for winning a prize. Legitimate lotteries do not guarantee that you will win a prize. Legitimate lotteries also do not require people to join a prize pool in order to play or win.
Never trust someone who says you can win the lottery by purchasing a set of "winning numbers" instead of a ticket. Legitimate lotteries require you to buy a ticket for a chance to win a prize.
Never play a foreign lottery by phone, mail or Internet. It is against the law and increases your risk of falling victim to a scam.
Never pay processing fees, insurance or commissions to claim a lottery prize. Legitimate lotteries do not require winners to pay anything upfront to receive their prize.
The Louisiana Lottery is concerned about the issue of problem gambling. Toward that end, the Lottery includes the Department of Health and Hospitals' problem gambling hotline number on all tickets, advertising, news releases and sales materials. The Lottery also periodically conducts "play responsibly" public service campaigns. In addition, $500,000 of the Lottery's annual proceeds transferred to the state are earmarked for problem gambling programs, as outlined in the Lottery's statute.
Although the LLC is not engaged in law enforcement, it aggressively promotes the "21" minimum age requirement by printing it on all tickets, news releases, sales material and signage, as well as reinforcing the message in retailer training and communication. In addition, the LLC is a member of the Louisiana Responsible Vendor Program which establishes mandatory training and certifies vendors on minimum age requirements for alcohol, tobacco and lottery sales.
The vast majority of licensed retailers are convenience stores; however grocery stores, drug stores, liquor stores, bars, and restaurants also sell Lottery tickets. Outlets which provide one-stop shopping convenience or entertainment for adults work best for the sale of Lottery tickets.