Top Lottery Questions
Playing the Lottery is entertaining, exciting and fun. So naturally people want to know about us. You'll find a collections of questions and answers we've received over time.
Choose a topic or scroll down to read them all.
Claims and PaymentsBack to Top
 
  How can I claim a Lottery prize? Lottery prizes won up to and including $600 can be claimed at any licensed New York Lottery retail location. Retailers are authorized to pay prizes on winning draw game tickets, including Take Five free play tickets, up to 45 days after the drawing. If a winning draw game ticket is presented after 45 days it may be cashed at one of the Lottery's 15 Regional Customer Service Centers statewide. Prizes on all draw tickets expire after one year from the date of the drawing. Prizes of $601 or more must be claimed at one of the Lottery's 15 Regional Customer Service Centers statewide. Regional Customer Service Centers are authorized to pay all prizes up to and including $500,000. Prizes over $500,000, including jackpot prizes, must be claimed at a one of the Lottery's Customer Service Centers but will be sent to the Prize Payment Unit in Schenectady for payment. Winning tickets for all amounts may also be mailed to New York Lottery, PO Box 7533, Schenectady, NY, 12301-7533. Be sure to sign the back of your winning ticket.
 
 Why don't retailers pay when I have a winning ticket? All Lottery retailers are required to pay on a winning ticket, except when the prize is over $600 or the winning ticket is more than 45 days old. In such cases, prizes must be claimed at any of our 15 conveniently located Regional Customer Service Centers. Winning tickets for all amounts may also be mailed to New York Lottery, PO Box 7533, Schenectady, New York 12301-7533. Be sure to sign the back of your winning ticket. If you experience any difficulty with a retailer not offering you a check or cash payment for your prize, please contact us.
 
 What if I lose my winning Lottery ticket? All Lottery tickets are bearer instruments, meaning they are just like currency. If you lose your ticket, and it does not have your signature on it, anyone can use the ticket to claim a prize. If you lose your ticket, please contact a Regional Customer Service Center.
 
 How can I tell that my instant ticket is a winning ticket? Each Instant ticket has features that help to identify whether it is a winning ticket. In addition to the number and/or symbols used for game play, each has a caption printed under it with either the spelling of the number or an abbreviation of the number. Both the number and caption must match to identify a winning ticket and the validation codes on the ticket must match the Lottery's computer records for the game.
 
 Can I still claim an Instant Prize if the Instant Game is no longer available for sale? Instant prizes can be claimed up to one year from the announced end of the game. You can also ask your retailer for redemption dates.
 
 Where can I claim a Take Five free play quick pick prize after 45 days? The bonus prize of a quick pick Take Five Free Play must be claimed at a retailer location within 45 days of the draw date. After 45 days, the prize is no longer available.
 
 Will any money be withheld from my prize? Federal, state, and local income taxes are withheld from prizes over $5,000 or from prizes over $600 when the winner does not provide a social security or tax identification number when claiming the prize. Withholding varies according to the winner's place of residence.
If applicable, Public Assistance/Past due Child Support offsets may be withheld.
 
 Will past due Child Support and Public Assistance be withheld from my prize? If you are identified by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) as owing past due child support and/or having received public assistance in the last 10 years, the Lottery is required by law to withhold money from your Lottery prize of $600 or more.
 
 How can I contest past due Child Support/Public Assistance offsets withheld from my prize? At the time you claim your prize and the money is withheld, you will receive a flyer that includes brief instructions on how to contest the withholding of your money. If you believe money for past due child support was withheld in error, please contact your county Child Support Enforcement representative. If you believe money for public assistance was withheld in error, you may call the toll free number at 866-447-4844 or write to New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Public Assistance Unit, PO Box 22078, Albany, NY 11201-2078. Once OTDA receives the funds the following month, a representative will contact you with additional information concerning the seizure of the money. This may take up to 6 weeks.
 
 Why are Lottery prizes taxed? Federal and State laws provide that Lottery prizes are considered income and are therefore subject to Federal, State and local income taxes.
 
 Do senior citizens have to pay taxes on Lottery prizes? The Lottery is required to report any prize over $600 and to withhold applicable taxes from prizes over $5,000, regardless of the winner's age.
 
 If I win a lottery prize and I don't live in New York, will you withhold New York State taxes from my prize? The New York Lottery is required by law to withhold New York State taxes from prizes over $5,000, regardless of the winner's place of residence.
 
 When I win a jackpot prize, when will I receive my prize? Once your prize claim has been approved by the Lottery, and the Lottery's Press and Community Relations Office completes your media announcement, your lump sum or initial payment will be electronically transmitted to the bank account of your choice. This process will be explained to you in detail at the time you claim your prize.
 
 What payment options are available if I win a jackpot prize? If you win an Instant jackpot prize, the payment of the jackpot is determined by the prize structure of the game. The payment structure for a jackpot prize is stated on the back of each ticket. For instance, a prize of $1 million is paid in 20 annual payments of $50,000. Annual payments will be made around the anniversary of your original claim.
Sweet Million jackpot prizes are paid in one lump sum payment. You will receive the net (after tax withholdings) of $1,000,000.
There are two jackpot payment options available if you win a Lotto or Mega Millions jackpot prize. A player must choose between two jackpot payment options at the time he or she purchases his or her ticket. These two options are "26 Annual Payments" or "Lump Sum Cash Value."
If you choose "26 Annual Payments," you will receive your prize in 26 annual payments over 25 years around the anniversary of your win. For the Lotto game, annual payments will be graduated payments, increasing in value each year. For the Mega Millions game, annual payments are the same each year.
If you choose to receive your payment in one "Lump Sum Cash Value" payment, you will receive the estimated present cash value of the advertised jackpot amount. This amount will be less than the advertised jackpot.
 
 Is the "Lump Sum" jackpot option available for Instant jackpot games? Currently, the only Instant game with a 'Lump sum' payment for a jackpot prize is our "$1,000,000 Cashword" Instant game.
 
 What happens to my remaining jackpot payments if I die before I receive all of my payments? According to New York State Tax Law Section 1613, the Lottery may make payments to the original prize winner, the estate of a deceased prize winner or whoever the Lottery is ordered to pay pursuant to an appropriate judicial order. Lottery payments will not be accelerated upon a prize winner's death.
 
 Are Powerball tickets available for purchase in New York? Yes. Powerball tickets will be available at all New York Lottery retail locations soon.
 
 Can Mega Millions or Powerball tickets be cashed in any of the states that offer this game? No. Each of the states participating in the Mega Millions and Powerball games run independent computer systems that are not capable of processing another state's tickets. Winning tickets must be cashed in the state in which they are purchased.
 
 What does unclaimed prize money go? Unclaimed prize money is always returned to the prize pool and therefore, to our players. It is sometimes used to subsidize prizes for large jackpots, promotions and/or special one-time games.
 
DrawingsBack to Top
 
 How can I obtain all the drawing results for particular Lottery games? Past winning numbers for most of our Lottery draw games for the past are available click here. Players may also obtain historical results by calling 518-388-3415 or by writing to: New York Lottery, One Broadway Center, P.O. Box 7500, Schenectady, NY 12301-7500.
 
 How often are the ballsets changed? For Lotto, three sets of ballsets are changed every three months.
For Take Five and Pick 10 there are also three ballsets and they are changed every two months.
Numbers and Win 4 ballsets are changed every month (both the midday and evening sets).
For information about the Mega Millions ballsets and drawings, visit the official Mega Millions site at: www.megamillions.com
 
 How can I be sure that the drawings are fair and random and not fixed? The Lottery adheres to an elaborate regimen for each and every Lottery drawing with strict policies and detailed checks and balances. The drawing process is videotaped and each component is observed by an independent auditor to ensure the absolute integrity of each drawing and that each drawing is completely fair and random.
 
 How does the Lottery set the LOTTO jackpots? The estimation of Lotto jackpots is based upon projected sales. Sales are estimated based upon recent historic trends, weather, competing jackpots and the amount to which potential players are distracted by current events. Once sales are estimated, the jackpot is set using a formula regarding how much of each sales dollar goes to the jackpot. This amount of cash is then multiplied by a factor to estimate the announced jackpot annuity value.
The jackpot factor is based on the market for 100% U.S. government guaranteed treasury securities. The factor takes into consideration the amount of each scheduled annual payment and the expected interest earned on funds to support those payments. The expected interest rates are estimated before the drawing. Real-time market information (based upon quotes from several brokers) from the first working day after the drawing is used to set the particular drawing's factor.
 
 How does the Lottery set the jackpots for the Mega Millions multi-state game? The estimation of Mega Millions jackpots is based using projected sales. Sales are estimated by a Finance Committee consisting of Finance personnel from each Mega Millions state. The committee bases its estimate upon recent historic trends, weather, competing jackpots and the amount to which potential players are distracted by current events. Once sales are estimated, the jackpot is set using a formula regarding how much of each sales dollar goes to the jackpot. This amount of cash is then multiplied by a factor to estimate the announced jackpot annuity value. The Directors of the Mega Millions states have the final decision on setting jackpot levels.

The jackpot factor is based on the market for 100% U.S. government guaranteed treasury securities. The factor takes into consideration the amount of each scheduled annual payment and the expected interest earned on funds to support those payments. The expected interest rates are estimated before the drawing using real-time market information.
 
GamesBack to Top
 
 What is the difference between the two jackpot payment options and do I have to choose an option at the time I purchase my Lotto or Mega Millions ticket or a Lotto subscription? When purchasing a Lotto or Mega Millions ticket, you must choose a jackpot payment option at the time of purchase. If you do not choose an option, the playcard will reject and the retailer will return your playcard to you to choose one. If you do not choose an option when subscribing, you will automatically receive the "Lump Sum Cash Value" option. If you would like to receive your jackpot prize in one lump sum payment, you should choose the "Lump Sum Cash Value" option. Please note if you choose this option, you will receive the estimated present cash value of the advertised jackpot amount. This amount will be less than the advertised jackpot. If you would like to receive annual payments, you should choose the "26 Annual Payments" option. You will receive an initial payment at your press conference and then an annual payment for the next 25 years. If you win Lotto, those prize payments will be graduated payments, increasing in amount each year. If you win Mega Millions, your prize payment amount will remain the same each year.
 
 How does Lucky Sum work? Lucky Sum is an add-on feature to the Lottery's Number's and Win 4 games.
 
 What game has the best odds to win a prize? Take Five has the best odds of all the Lottery's Draw Games. For our Take Five interactive tour and other Take Five information, click here.
 
 How can I find out about Second Chance Drawings? Whenever a Second Chance Drawing is being held, information and rules are published on our website and at your local retailer.
 
 How does the Bonus number work with the LOTTO numbers? To play LOTTO, you choose six numbers from 1 through 59. The Lottery draws eight numbers. The eighth number is the Bonus number drawn to award the Second Prize. You win the Second Prize if you match 5 of the first six numbers drawn, PLUS the bonus number drawn.
 
 What is the current LOTTO jackpot? For the next LOTTO jackpot, click here.
 
 Why can't I play Quick Draw in all Lottery retail outlets? Drawings for the Lottery's Quick Draw game are conducted every four minutes. This format is not convenient or appropriate in many Lottery retail locations. The game is available at approximately 3,000 Quick Draw locations statewide.
 
Odds and PayoutsBack to Top
 
 What are the payout percentages of New York Lottery Games? The State Lottery Law allows up to 40% of ticket sales receipts to be used for the payment of prizes in the LOTTO game, or any variation of that game, such as Sweet Million. Up to 50% of ticket sales receipts may be used for prizes in the Mega Millions, Take 5, Numbers, Win 4, and Pick 10 games. Quick Draw pays out up to 60% of ticket sales receipts as prizes, and Instant Games have a 65% prize payout, with no more than three games per year paying up to 75% of ticket sales receipts as prizes. The law also allows the use of unclaimed prizes to supplement the prize structures of all the games, which enables the Lottery to return 57 cents of every dollar to players as prizes in draw games and instant games. The law requires an average of not less than 90% of sales in video lottery games to be payable as prizes, and payouts at the State's video lottery facilities all meet or exceed that level.
 
 Can there by multiple winners for the LOTTO top prize? Several people may share a Lotto top prize, depending on the number of people who share a single ticket or the number of people who pick the same numbers. Historically, we've often had more than one winner for the top prizes.
 

 
 

Also check out: New York Lottery Results