New York Lottery Winners Are Tired Of Waiting To Claim Prizes

Written By Derek Helling on September 14, 2020 - Last Updated on November 30, 2022

Editor’s note: While the New York Lottery’s Customer Service Centers still require an appointment, ticketholders can also redeem their winnings at a local Prize Claim Center. No appointment is necessary.

Any prize up to $600 can be claimed at a licensed New York Lottery retail location, individuals can schedule an appointment at a Customer Service Center, or they can mail the winning ticket to the lottery for redemption. For prizes exceeding $600, ticketholders can schedule an appointment at a Customer Service Center, they can redeem the ticket at a Prize Claim Center, or they, too, can mail tickets into the Lottery.

To redeem your prize, you must provide the winning ticket, a filled-out claim form, a valid government-issued ID and a valid Social Security number or Federal Employment Identification Number. Note that most claims will be processed on-site. However, jackpot wins, Mega Millions prizes over $500,000, and Powerball winnings exceeding $50,000 will be processed at the New York Lottery’s Schenectady office.

Draw-game players must claim their winnings within a year of the draw date, while scratch-off players have one year from the announced end of the game to redeem their prizes.

New York has arguably been one of the the slowest states when it comes to resuming gambling operations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s visible in the ongoing restrictions with New York Lottery claim centers.

The centers are still operating on an appointment-only basis. The lack of appointments, however, is creating a log-jam that has some winners wondering when the lottery will actually pay out.

The details on restrictions at New York Lottery claim centers

Some lottery winners in New York say they’ve been waiting months to make their claims. For the foreseeable future, lottery claim centers in the state will not open to walk-in traffic.

Winners of prizes of $600 or less can claim winnings at any lottery retailer. If your ticket is worth $601 or more, however, you currently have two options.

Your first option is to mail-in a claim form along with your original, signed ticket.

The lottery recommends using registered mail for your ticket. If you prefer to claim your prize in person, you can make an appointment at your nearest claim center.

The popularity of that second option is creating an issue, however. Some of the claim centers currently do not have open appointments until well into November.

There are also no lottery claim centers currently open in New York City, which means a lot of winners have to make a trip to get their money.

Pat Ferraro, who won $900 and drove from Brooklyn to Plainview to claim his prize said, “To me, it just looks like they’re just trying to hold your money. That’s what it looks like.”

Many of the winners claim they do not trust the mail when it comes to their New York Lottery prize money.

New York an outlier with its current policies

The New York State Gaming Commission issued the following to CBS2 regarding the situation and the complaints:

The Commission continues to examine how we can reestablish service within gaming facilities while minimizing novel coronavirus risk to both Lottery patrons and facility employees.  We will finalize a process as soon as practicable. In the interim, Lottery Customer Service Centers throughout the State are open, albeit in a controlled atmosphere.  The Centers accept guests on an appointment basis, with strict protocols regarding personal protective equipment and sanitization required to be observed by both patrons and Lottery personnel.  Alternatives to in-person Customer Service Centers redemption also exist.  All prizes $600 or less may be redeemed at any licensed Lottery sales agent.  The Commission also maintains a full service Prize Payments Unit which processes lottery ticket claims that have been sent to our Schenectady office.

While these restrictions are in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, it’s somewhat out of the norm for state lotteries to still restrict all walk-in traffic.

For example, the Tennessee Lottery’s claim centers are open for walk-ins again, but only for one winner at a time.

A lottery spokesperson said they are working to open the casino service centers in New York as soon as possible. These centers will also be appointment-only.

There’s no telling how soon the gaming commission may allow claim centers to accept walk-in traffic again. Until then, lottery winners in New York have to use the mail or wait.

Photo by Getty
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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