A staggering £122.5million in prizes went unclaimed in the last year as thousands of Euromillions, Lotto and scratchcard players failed to claim their winnings, This is Money can reveal.
According to figures from Camelot, roughly three per cent of winnings go unclaimed each year.
This ranges from giant wins on the Lotto to smaller amounts won on scratchcards, perhaps left in a drawer to gather dust as the prize just wasn’t juicy enough to go and claim.
The majority of outstanding big winnings are for the raffle-style element of the draw, which suggests people are not checking their tickets properly or may not even be aware they are being entered.
Big wins: Here are where £50k prizes are still available in the UK (accurate as of 13/7/2018)
Players are now automatically entered for the raffle in both the Lotto and Euromillions, for which a winner is guaranteed. This is a code in the bottom half of the ticket.
It comes in the form of a colour followed by an eight digit number for the Lotto, for example, RUBY 1111 2222 – and four letters, followed by five numbers for the Euromillions, so for example LBDF 12345.
At present, there are 15 prizes of £50,000 or more (which can be found in the map above) from the last six months that have still gone unclaimed – and 13 of them are via the raffle.
Many may forget to check this raffle element on the bottom of their ticket, simply make a mistake when looking or forget to look at all.
Camelot says that five of the 15 unclaimed prizes are from the EuroMillions Millionaire Maker – four from the UK and one from Europe – and eight are Lotto Raffle prizes.
It says that the vast majority of prizes won over £50,000 tend to be from the EuroMillions Millionaire Maker and Lotto Raffle.
EuroMillions Millionaire Maker creates two £1million prizes in each draw, or four a week and Lotto Raffle creates one £1million in each draw, two a week.
Often, there are draws where these are increased, including tonight where there are 13 £1million draws in the Euromillions, thanks to it being Friday 13th.
Could be you? Data shows that raffle draw prizes are the big ones that people are most likely to not to claim – and can be worth up to £1m
A spokesman said: ‘With such frequent raffle prizes available to be won, we would expect the proportion of unclaimed prizes to reflect this.
‘Winners have a number of reasons for not coming forward including being on holiday or forgetting to check their ticket.
‘Some people are habitual checkers and prefer to check their tickets once a fortnight or once a month, and some are occasional players so might not play regular numbers and not be as much in a pattern to check.’
Rules state winners have 180 days to collect a prize – or it is siphoned into its National Lottery Good Causes fund.
Camelot has a section on its website breaking down what prizes are outstanding on which games so players can check tickets.
It told This is Money that it doesn’t break down the amount that went unclaimed last year per game, so it is not clear how much is unclaimed on scratchcards, for example.
Scratchcards: Many people win small prizes – and may forget about claiming
The figures are for the 2017/18 financial year, ending 31 March 2018.
The firm says it publicises all prizes of £50,000 and above saying it releases to local media the area where an unclaimed ticket has been bought approximately two weeks after the draw to raise awareness and also publishes this on its website.
It adds that it undertakes activity in those areas tailored to the prize and location.
It says: ‘Examples of previous activity include working with football clubs such as PA announcements at half time, advertorials in match day programmes, working with relevant local third parties’ social media channels, information targeted at commuters at relevant transport hubs as well as more traditional PR activity designed to drive media coverage.
‘We also undertake radio interviews to drive awareness. We’re delighted to say we have had lots of examples of winners who have seen media coverage or heard a radio interview and come forward as a result.’
So what about if you find a ticket after that 180 day period? Would you have any chance of claiming your prize?
Under the rules for playing National Lottery games agreed with regulator, the Gambling Commission, players have 180 days to claim their prize.
If players contact it – either by calling the National Lottery Line or by emailing – before the end of the 180-day claim period to notify that they intend to claim their prize, they must make their claim in person within seven days of the end of the 180-day claim period.
A spokesman added: ‘We also offer a service for anyone who believes they have a genuine claim but is no longer in possession of their ticket because it has been lost, destroyed or stolen.
‘In these circumstances, players must contact us in writing within 30 days of the draw in question to make a claim.
‘Based on the information provided by the claimant, we, may at our discretion, investigate and consider the validity of the claim.
‘If we are satisfied that the claim is valid, we may, at our further discretion, pay the prize after the end of the 180-day claim period for that draw.’
Some examples of huge prizes that went unclaimed include a £65million EuroMillions jackpot in 2012, with the ticket bought in the Stevenage and Hitchin region of Hertfordshire.
In 2007, a ticket bought in Devon for the Euromillions won £6.9million but that went unclaimed – as did a £9.4million Lotto jackpot from a ticket purchased in Doncaster in 2005.
And in 2006, the Lotto jackpot was won by two tickets, splitting 3.3million between them. One ticket was bought in Glasgow and the other in Warwickshire – and neither stepped forward to claim the prize.
Unclaimed prizes end up going to a good causes fund. To date, £38billion has headed to 535,000 projects across Britain, a small portion of which has been from unclaimed wins.
The decision on how and where funding is invested is made by 12 specialist organisations. These are chosen by Parliament for their knowledge and expertise to help ensure the money goes where it is needed.
In the year ending 31 March 2018, 40 per cent of funds went to health, education, environmental and charitable causes, while 20 per cent went to sports, arts and heritage.