During these times of austerity and the “cost of living crisis” (as the Labour party have dubbed it) in the UK, one of the most frustrating and head-shakingly maddening pages on the internet must be Camelot’s list of unclaimed lottery prizes – literally millions of pounds going unclaimed that could change people’s lives.

November 2013 saw a £12 million lottery prize seemingly go unclaimed, second only to the £64 million Euromillions prize which went unclaimed in December 2012. It spurred GBGC to research just how much goes unclaimed in lottery prizes.
Looking at data from 1999 to 2013 there is a curious consistency in the amount of money that is unclaimed at the time of reporting (winners have 180 days to claim a prize, so a prize could be deemed “unclaimed” at the time of reporting but then a winner subsequently comes forward).
Even as total lottery ticket sales have fluctuated over the 14 years under review, the amount of unclaimed prizes remains within the range of 3% – 4% of available prizes.

GBGC UK Unclaimed Lottery Prizes
The jump to almost 5% in 2012/2013 is caused by that huge £64 million Euromillions prize going unclaimed. In 2012/2013 some £ 180 million was unclaimed at the time the annual report was compiled. This was a new record high but in the previous 13 years the amount was always above £ 70 million. This figure includes jackpots as well as numerous smaller prizes of tens of thousands of pounds.
GBGC UK Unclaimed Lottery Prizes Amount
It might have been expected that the amount of unclaimed prizes would fall as more players purchased tickets using the internet or mobile phone. Using these channels means that players cannot lose their ticket nor can they forget to check them because it is done automatically and the player receives email notification. But the amount going unclaimed remained stubbornly consistent.
After 180 days unclaimed prizes go into the pot for good causes, helping to fund a variety of projects – some worthy, others somewhat woollier in their benefits to society. Lottery players should have a duty not to let their rightful winnings fall into this pot.
One is put in mind of the late George Best: “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds, and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.