Games & Game InfoWinners and ResultsFun StuffIt Does Good ThingsAbout Your Lottery

Lottery FAQs

Lottery Frequently Asked Questions



Prizes


When I have a winning ticket, how do I claim a Lottery prize?

There are several ways to claim a winning Lottery prize - at a Lottery retailer, at the Lottery office in Salem, or using the online Winners Claim Form (follow all instructions).


How long do I have to claim my prize?

Prizes for MegabucksSM, Powerball®, Mega Millions®, Keno, Win for LifeSM, Lucky LinesSM, and Pick 4SM must be claimed within one year from the date of the drawing in which the prize was won. RaffleSM prizes must be claimed within one year of the winning number announcement. Prizes for Scratch-itSM games must be claimed within one year after the official end of the game. All unclaimed prizes go to public education, economic development and natural resource programs.


How are Lottery winnings taxed?

All Lottery prizes, regardless of the amount, generally are considered as income by the state and federal government.

For Traditional products (Scratch-itsSM and Draw games), the Oregon Lottery® is required to report all Traditional product prizes of $600 or more to the Internal Revenue Service, and the Oregon Department of Revenue. For prizes over $5,000, the Lottery is required to withhold 25% for federal taxes, and 8% for state income taxes.

For Video Lottery℠ Platinum Series (PS) jackpot prizes, the Oregon Lottery is required to report all Video LotterySM PS jackpot prizes of $1200 or more to the Internal Revenue Service. The Oregon Lottery is required to report all Video LotterySM PS jackpot prizes over $600 to the Oregon Department of Revenue. For prizes over $5,000, the Lottery is required to withhold 8% for state income taxes.

For promotional prizes, the Oregon Lottery is required to report to the Internal Revenue Service the value of all promotional prizes (not associated with a wager) awarded by the Lottery to an individual during a calendar year, if the total value of the promotional prizes awarded to the individual is $600 or more.

The actual tax liability of winners will depend on their overall financial situation, and when they file their taxes at the end of the year, they could owe more or less than the actual amount withheld. You may wish to consult a tax advisor if you have further questions.


What happens to the remaining payments if a jackpot winner dies before all their annuity payments have been received?

If a jackpot winner chooses an annuity payment plan for a jackpot prize, and passes away before all of the payments have been received, the remaining payments will go to the designated heir(s) or the estate. At the time the winning ticket is redeemed, the prize recipient has the opportunity to complete a form and designate an heir.


If I win a big prize, can I remain anonymous?

Some big Lottery winners want to share the good news. Others would like to remain anonymous. We try to respect the wishes of all of our Lottery winners. However, certain information about Lottery prizes is public record, including the name of the winner, amount of the prize, date of the drawing, name of the game played and city in which the winning ticket was purchased. Oregon citizens have a right to know that Lottery prizes are indeed being awarded to real persons. However, we do not give out any phone numbers, addresses or any other personal information.


Can I share the jackpot with another family member or friend?

Certainly. Winners of large Lottery prizes often want to share their good fortune with friends and family, and we do our best to accommodate those wishes. A winning ticket must be signed and claimed by only one person. However, once the winner has completed the official Lottery claim form, he or she may divide the prize by completing a request and release form available at the Lottery. This form must be signed by all parties who will receive part of the prize. The Lottery will then issue prize checks to all persons whose name appears on the official release form.


Why am I not given the opportunity to choose the cash or annuity option when I buy my Megabucks or Powerball ticket?

You are able to make the choice between cash or annuity when you come to the Lottery to claim a Megabucks or Powerball jackpot prize. By not making this choice at the time you buy your ticket, you now have time to determine how you may want your prize - either in one lump sum or in 25 annual installments for Megabucks, 26 annual installments for Mega Millions or 30 annual installments for Powerball.


How much is the Lottery required to return to players in the form of prizes?

The law requires that at least 50% of the Lottery's total annual sales be returned to the public in the form of prizes. The Lottery currently pays out Traditional game (Megabucks, Powerball, Mega Millions, Scratch-its, Keno, Win for Life, Lucky Lines, and Pick 4,) prizes at a combined rate of 64%, which means that overall, of 64 cents of every dollar played on Traditional games goes back to players in prizes. Video Lottery game prizes pay out at a combined rate of 93%.


Games


The Scratch-it game I played had odds of 1 in 4. Doesn't that mean I should get a winning ticket every fourth ticket purchased?

No, not at all. The odds stated on the back of all Scratch-it tickets are the overall odds of winning a prize in that game. For example, if the overall odds of winning a prize in a game are 1 in 4, it means that if 4 million tickets are printed for that particular game, 1 million will be winners, which are randomly placed throughout the entire run of Scratch-it tickets.

As with all of our games, receiving one of those winning tickets is simply a matter of chance. Because of this random placement, it is possible to get a string of nonwinners in a row, just as it’s possible to buy a similar number of tickets and get several winners in a row. Although we can't guarantee that everyone will be a winner, we can guarantee that each player has a fair and equal chance of winning a prize.


Why doesn’t the Lottery offer subscription play for Megabucks and Powerball?

While the Lottery does not offer a “subscription” system to our players, we have extended the number of advance play drawings players can buy for our draw games, Powerball, Mega Millions, and Megabucks (Oregon’s game). Players are now able to buy 26 consecutive drawings in advance for only $25 for Megabucks.


Why are Megabucks jackpots only increased by $100,000 per draw?

Players like big jackpots, and want the jackpot to grow if it isn't won. However, like most jackpot games, the size of the Megabucks jackpot is determined by sales for that game. While the Megabucks jackpot starts at a guaranteed $1 million, sales for the initial jackpot amounts are considerably less. Therefore, it takes numerous draws to fund the jackpot prize being offered, and the Megabucks jackpot is increased by only $100,000 for each draw until the jackpot is fully funded. At the lottery's discretion, additional funding may be available to add to the jackpot.


Can number frequency charts help me select winning numbers?

The frequency charts for Powerball, Megabucks and Keno are very popular and are updated periodically on the Lottery's Web site. Even though they are fun to analyze, frequency charts will not improve your chances of picking the winning numbers. Each game drawing is a totally random selection process, so every number has an equal chance of being drawn at any given time.


Which produces more winners, using the “Quick Pick” method or selecting my own numbers?

Each set of numbers, whether from a Quick Pick (numbers are selected by the Lottery’s computer system) or selected by the player, have the same odds of being drawn. About 70% of Megabucks and Powerball tickets sold are Quick Pick tickets. Not surprisingly, about 70% of the prizes won in those games are from Quick Pick tickets.


Why does the Oregon Lottery offer Video LotterySM games?

In 1991, it was estimated that up to 10,000 video slot and video poker machines (known as “grey machines”) were being used for illegal gambling in Oregon. That year, the Oregon Legislative Assembly outlawed the "grey machines" but, recognizing their well-established presence in the marketplace, placed the operation of similar devices under the authority of the Oregon State Lottery Commission. Video LotterySM gaming is now regulated by the State, and accounts for approximately 80% of all Oregon Lottery earnings for public education, economic development and natural resource programs.


Why can't I buy Oregon Lottery tickets over the Internet?

Internet wagering is an extremely controversial and complex issue involving both state and federal law, as well as a number of regulatory, technological and security challenges. The issue of gambling over the Internet is the subject of current congressional review. The Oregon Lottery does not have any plans to sell tickets over the Internet and believes it could be several years before those major public policy and legal issues are resolved to its satisfaction.

For example, Oregon state law and administrative rules state that Oregon Lottery prizes may only be paid when a winning ticket physically printed on official Lottery ticket stock is presented for validation and redemption. This can only be accomplished by purchasing a ticket in person from a authorized Lottery retailer. Other major issues that concern the Oregon Lottery about Internet wagering include: - lack of age control, and - the current e-commerce need to use credit to pay for ticket purchases.

People must be at least 18 years old to play Oregon Lottery games, and face-to-face transactions through our retailers help us to enforce that law. The second concern is that the use of credit could lead some players to wager more than they can afford. Cash transactions require a conscious decision to spend the money a person has on-hand.

The Oregon Lottery is aware of the enormous potential of the Internet. We will continue to provide the latest information about our games, background on the Lottery and other helpful information on this Web site.


What is the demographic profile of Oregon Lottery players?

Research consistently shows that the “typical Oregon Lottery player” is the “typical Oregonian,” in terms of age, income and education. Lottery players comprise 63% of the total adult population of Oregon; are equally likely to be male or female; have an average age of about 47 years old; have some college education; and have a household income of $50,000 per year.


Lottery Dollars


Does the Oregon Lottery receive any funding from tax dollars?

No. The Oregon Lottery is entirely self-financed through its ticket sales and receives no General Fund or tax dollars to operate.


What percent of its sales does the Lottery spend on administrative costs?

By law, no more than 16% of its total annual sales may be used for administrative costs (game vendor expenses, commissions to retailers who sell Lottery products and Lottery operating expenses). Today, the Lottery operates at less than 4% of its total annual sales, and uses the remaining dollars to increase prize pay-outs for players and as additional transfers to the State for programs including public education, economic development and natural resource programs.

Who decides which programs and projects receive Lottery profits?

Oregonians vote to approve the broad categories that may receive Oregon Lottery funds, and have approved Constitutional amendments allowing Lottery funds to be used for economic development (1984), public education (1995) and natural resource programs (1998). Then, every two years, Oregon's Legislature and Governor appropriate the remainder of Lottery funds within those categories. During the current biennium (2009-2011), 61% of all Lottery profits, over $4 billion, is going to public education. The remainder is going to economic development, natural resources, and problem gambling treatment programs.


What are the authorized uses of Lottery funds?

Authorized uses of Lottery profits, as designated by Oregon voters, include public education, economic development and natural resource programs.

  • Lottery funds allocated education go to Oregon Education Department and Oregon university systems for disbursement.
  • Lottery funds allocated for state parks and salmon restoration projects go to the Natural Resource Fund, and are distributed to programs and agencies such as the Governor's Watershed Enhancement Board, Fish & Wildlife, Parks & Recreation, Agriculture, Forestry, and DEQ.
  • Lottery funds for business development and job creation are administered through the Oregon Business Development Department. The OBDD provides economic development and cultural enhancement throughout the state, and administers programs that assist businesses, communities and people.


How do I apply for Oregon Lottery funds?

If you would like more information about the process to apply for Lottery funded business loans, business support services and grants for community development projects log onto the Oregon Business Development Department (OBDD) website at: http://www.oregon4biz.com or call 503-986-0123.

All business owners are encouraged to visit their local Small Business Development Centers for assistance in starting and growing a business. SBDCs are supported by Lottery funds to provide assistance to business owners in, or near their communities statewide. Visit http://www.bizcenter.org/ to learn more about starting a business in Oregon.



Location & Hours


How do I get to the Oregon Lottery office in Salem?

Getting to Oregon Lottery headquarters is easy. The Lottery is located at 500 Airport Road in southeast Salem. To get there from I-5, take Exit 253, and go west toward Salem. Then take a right on Airport Road. The Oregon Lottery is the second driveway on the right. For further help in finding the Lottery, you will find a map under “Contact Us” on this Web site.


What are the Lottery office business hours?

The Oregon Lottery office in Salem is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding state holidays and state furlough days). If you are claiming a prize, we suggest you arrive by 4:45 p.m. Claims over $5,000 may take up to 1 hour to process, so we suggest you arrive by 4:00 p.m. A jackpot prize may take up to 2 hours to process, so plan accordingly. The Lottery’s central computer system cannot process prize validations after 5 p.m.


Is it possible to purchase Lottery merchandise and collectibles?

The general public may purchase premium Lottery merchandise and collectibles at The Lottery Store, located at Lottery office in Salem. All Lottery premium items are sold at cost, plus handling. You can find many good deals and lots of fun items to keep or give as gifts. You can also purchase Lottery tickets at the Lottery Store.


How many Oregon Lottery retailers are there?

The Oregon Lottery has about 1,500 Lottery retailers who sell only our Traditional products (Megabucks, Powerball, Scratch-its, Keno, etc.), and about 600 retailers who sell only Video Lottery games. About 1,700 retailers sell both types of Lottery games, for a total of approximately 3,800 Oregon Lottery retailers.


Problem Gambling


What has Oregon done to address problem gambling?

Research shows that 3% of adult Oregonians may be at risk of becoming problem or pathological gamblers. That puts Oregon in the middle range of other state and national statistics. The vast majority of Oregonians do not have a problem with gambling. However, the State of Oregon and the Lottery recognize that while the government's role is to carry out the will of the majority, it also has an obligation to provide for the needs of the minority.

Oregon now dedicates 1% of Lottery funds - nearly $7.1 million per biennium- for problem gambling prevention and treatment programs. In addition, the Lottery spends $600,000 each year on advertising that address the nature of the problem gambling disease and the treatment that is available.


If I, or someone I know, have a gambling problem, how do I get help?

Regardless of the source of a gambling problem - casinos, internet, social games, or Lottery - problem gambling treatment in Oregon is free, confidential and it works. If you are (or someone you know is) gambling too much, you can call the Oregon Problem Gambling Helpline or chat live online with a certified gambling counselor. All information shared is confidential and this service is FREE to Oregon residents. Call toll-free 877-695-4648 or go to their Web site at www.1877MyLimit.org.



Oregon Lottery • 500 Airport Road SE, Salem, OR, 97301 • PO Box 12649 Salem, OR, 97309-0649 • www.oregonlottery.org
Phone: 503-540-1000 • Fax: 503-540-1001 • Email: lottery.webcenter@state.or.us