Unclaimed lottery prizes top $126.5M in three years

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Unclaimed lottery prizes top $126.5M in three years

Government data showed that more than 138.37 billion won ($126.5 million) in lottery prizes haven’t been claimed by their winners.

The uncollected earnings amounted to 138.37 billion won between 2013 and 2015, the Lottery Commission, a division of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, said on Tuesday. In 2013, the pot reached 50.44 billion won and another 44.17 billion won wasn’t collected by winners in 2014. The figure for unclaimed prizes reached 43.77 billion won last year alone.

Lottery winners have a year to collect their prizes and if they fail to do so, the government gets to use the money.

“We plan to use the unclaimed money to support those who are needy, such as low-income households,” said an official at the Finance Ministry.

About 18 million Koreans have not asked for their prizes between 2013 and 2015, according to the ministry. Among them, 13 people were first-place winners.

Data showed that fifth-place winners were least likely to claim their prizes. In Korea’s lottery system, the fifth-place prize winner receives 5,000 won, but some 17.7 million people failed to collect their prizes in the past three years. The money unclaimed by fifth-place winners has reached 88.4 billion won, and it accounted for 63.9 percent of total prizes not given out.

The fourth place prize winner gets 50,000 won, but data showed that 16.6 billion won hasn’t been claimed by fourth-place winners in the past three years.

There were some 29.74 million people, with 26.37 billion won in total winnings who have failed to claim their prizes since January. Three first-place winners didn’t collect their winnings this year, which totaled 2.54 billion won, the finance ministry said.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]
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