What Happens to Unclaimed Lottery Money?

Each year, millions of dollars in lottery winnings go unclaimed. After a designated time period, any funds not claimed are deposited back into the state’s budget. Each state has legislation that determines how and what the money is used for. While some put the money back into the lotto pot, others use it to fund important projects throughout the state. Here are some of the programs that have been funded as a result.


In the state of Georgia, unclaimed lottery funds help support various programs related to education. According to, “The Georgia Lottery’s mission is to maximize revenues for specific educational programs. In Fiscal Year 2018, the GLC transferred $1,143,513,000 to the Lottery for Education Account. That’s $3 million (on average) raised every day for HOPE & Pre-K. It’s wonderful to know that state officials put such a high importance on investing in educational pursuits. In addition to education, the state consistently pledges money to fund gambling addiction programs as well. states, “The Georgia Lottery contributes $400,000 annually to the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to fund research, education and treatment of gambling addiction.”


Arizona spends their excess money on education funds for Native American children, legal advocates for abused children, and a task force for children abused and exploited online. In Fiscal Year 2018 alone, Arizona contributed nearly $29 million to Health and Human Services, $40 million towards higher education, $10 million for environmental conservation and $15 million for economic and business development. These are essential programs that would not be possible on such a grand scale without the help of unclaimed lottery money.


Oregon has a long list of beneficiaries for unclaimed lottery money as well. Some of the recipients include Veteran Services, job creation, watershed development, public schools, and state parks. The protection of wildlife and endangered species, purchase and maintenance of parklands, habitat restoration are just a few crucial areas that benefit from this money. However, the main beneficiary and biggest priority for the state remains education. According to, “Currently, 57% of Oregon Lottery profits go to Oregon’s K-12 public schools to help pay teachers’ salaries, build and repair schools, purchase much needed textbooks, computers, equipment and support other essential services. A portion of this percentage also goes toward Oregon’s public colleges and universities, helping fund academic scholarships and intercollegiate athletics.” As the state reinvests this money into education, it will help ensure the quality of life in Oregon continues to increase.

When you decide to participate in your state’s lottery, win or lose, you are making a contribution to the betterment of your home. While the thought of leaving money on the table can be difficult to accept, rest assured your state is using any unclaimed funds to good use. The programs that are paid for by this money help improve the lives of everyone living within your community.






Skip to content