If you win a prize of $601 or more with a lottery ticket in the Empire State, the path to getting paid is still the same as it has been for the past few months: New York Lottery claim centers remain closed for walk-in traffic.
There’s both bad and good news on this front as it pertains to COVID-19 in New York. For lottery enthusiasts in the state, that means being cognizant of what’s going on as they buy their potential winning lotto tickets.
The latest on the status of New York lottery claim centers
To slow the spread of the coronavirus, prize claim centers for multistate and NY lottery games in the Empire State are open by appointment only. This has been the case for months, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.
That information is only relevant for winners of prizes of at least $601. Prizes of $600 or less can be redeemed at any lottery retailer in the state.
For those looking to cash out prizes of at least $601, you do have another option. You can mail your signed ticket into the lottery for redemption. If you choose to do so, however, you need to include the following:
- The original, signed ticket (photocopies are not accepted)
- A completed claim form
- A photocopy of your valid government-issued identification card
- An original or photocopy of a document showing your complete Social Security number or federal tax ID number
The lottery recommends you send the above using registered mail. That way, you can track the progress, have proof of receipt, and have insurance to cover any loss. Send your package to:
New York Lottery
PO Box 7533
Schenectady, NY 12301-7533
Wait times for appointments down drastically in NY
For those who would rather claim their prizes in person, they must make an appointment at one of the lottery’s 14 centers throughout the state. That’s where the good news in this situation comes in.
Over the summer, prize winners had to schedule their appointments months in advance. The lottery was working with a “skeleton crew” of sorts to limit transmission of COVID-19, so that produced delays.
It seems the lottery has made up a lot of that ground. For example, right now, you can book an appointment to claim a prize at the Schenectady office as soon as Nov. 18.
That improvement means a faster turnaround to get your money by mail as well. Not all the news out of the Empire State is great, however.
Coronavirus cases on the rise in New York
County health departments across the state reported almost 4,000 new cases of coronavirus on Nov. 9 alone. In five of the last seven days, the number of positive cases has grown in New York. Those trends led to Gov. Andrew Cuomo issuing new orders for three counties in the state:
Familiar restrictions are back in place in these areas, such as the mandatory closing of bars at midnight. If trends like this continue and spread throughout the state, it will only mean a longer delay to claim centers accepting walk-in traffic again.
That said, the lottery has improved on quick turnarounds for paying out winning tickets. Make no mistake, though, it’s not because fewer people are winning lottery prizes. As a matter of fact, a New York man recently hit a big jackpot and claimed it in a wise way.
A clever workaround for staying anonymous in claiming prize
On Tuesday, a New Yorker who bought a winning Powerball ticket at Minogue’s Beverage Center at the Stonebreak Circle in Malta claimed his $94.8 million jackpot. The lump-sum prize came to about $50.86 million after taxes.
Although he bought the ticket in Malta, it’s not certain if he lives there. The winner took a path to claim his prize that is growing in popularity.
The winner formed a limited liability corporation (LLC) and claimed the prize in the name of that entity rather than using his personal name. The name of the LLC is simply “September 2020.”
This is a completely legal way to protect your identity if you win a large jackpot like this. Such winners often wish to stay anonymous if they can, as it helps cut down on relatives coming out of the woodwork, for example, to ask for handouts as well as other problems that can arise.
State law does not allow private individuals to remain anonymous when they claim such prizes. However, this process takes advantage of a loophole.
Regardless of whether future prize winners go the same route, they will have to either make appointments or use the mail for the foreseeable future.