How Are Lottery Tickets Verified?

Why is it that cashing in on a $50 lottery win can take a few minutes at the store while receiving thousands of dollars payout seems to drag on for days? Well, it’s all about the verification requirements. And the higher the prize claim, the more thorough the verification process.

For lottery tickets to be verified, specific steps and procedures need to be followed. Both the lottery operator and the winner go through investigations of varied intensity depending on the amount being claimed. This process ensures the win was legit and honest and the right person gets rewarded.

In this article, we’ll delve into more details about the verification process that follows a lottery win. We’ll also outline the types of lottery tickets available and conclude with a highlight of why the investigations are so important. Let’s get into it.

Types of Lottery Tickets

Types of Lottery Tickets

Before going into the process of how lottery tickets are verified, this is a good chance to first go through the options available for playing the lottery.

Today, anyone who wants to try their luck with the lottery is spoilt for choice. There are so many ways of playing and at the same time, the types of tickets are increasing by the day.

The best part is that the many variations of lottery tickets cater to different people’s needs, preferences, and capabilities. Some people may just want a quick play when feeling lucky. So a one-time scratch-off lottery ticket is ideal. Others are keen on consistently trying out the “dailies” with the hope of increasing their chances of winning it big.

For most, the online versions of lottery tickets have made things even easier. You can now cast your lucky numbers whenever and wherever you are. No need to wait till you get to the convenience store.

So, let’s have a closer look at the types of lottery tickets you can buy.

Scratch-Off Tickets

Some call these the “instant win games.” You can definitely win some amazing prizes instantly.

While scratch-off ticket prizes cannot really compare to the huge Powerball and Mega Millions payouts, this type of ticket is still quite common and fun to play. The range of possible winnings varies with the cost of a ticket. One ticket can go for $1 to $50. This modest pricing is one of the reasons why so many people can afford to try their luck here every so often.

Apart from the affordability of a scratch-off ticket, the popularity of this type of ticket is based on the quick results you get after playing. You don’t have to experience the anxiety of waiting for a draw for days or weeks. As soon as you purchase your card and scratch it, you know whether you’ve won or lost.

So, where can you buy scratch-off tickets? First of all, you need to be at least 18 years old (or 21, depending on the state you live in). Next, in a vending machine at a store near you, look for the little brightly colored cards with scratchable parts. You can buy as many as you like since, after all, the lottery is really a numbers game.

Once you get hold of your ticket, follow the directions given to play since all scratch-off tickets are different. And immediately assess the numbers to see if you’ve won. If you have, and the amount is less than $600, you can get your money right there and then at the store if they have that amount available.

Keno Tickets

Keno is very similar to traditional lottery-style gambling. Different regions have different variations of this game. But like most lottery games, it’s based on matching up numbers.

The Keno game involves choosing up to 20 random numbers between 1 and 80. You have to tell the retailer or the lottery operator how many numbers you’d like to pick first. Then decide how much to wager on each game. The total amount will be the cost of your game.

Before the draw, you can select the “Bonus multiplier” option. This will multiply both your total ticket cost and your price. So you get a chance to double your payout.

After choosing your numbers, a draw is made and the winning numbers are randomly picked (all between 1 and 80). The more your numbers match up with the numbers picked, the more you win.

One cool feature of this game is the cash prizes that a player can win even if none of their chosen numbers are drawn. Also, you can opt to play your numbers again by simply requesting a “Replay.”

Keno can be played in casinos and gambling houses. You can also find Keno games as one of the official lotteries of some states.

Pull-Tab Tickets

Pull-tab tickets are cheap to buy and a fun and quick lottery game. Each paper ticket has two sides. The front side lists the winning number combinations, the cash payout for each combination, the number of tickets having each winning combination, and the total number of tickets available in the game.

The backside of the ticket is sealed with a perforated paper tab.

To play the game, tear off the perforated paper tab and check if the hidden number matches that on the front side. Matching number combinations at the back with the front winning number is the way to win at this game.

Cash prizes are comparable to those of scratch-off tickets and winners can also claim their prizes immediately.

Pull-tab tickets are sold in vending machines at convenience stores and grocery stores. You can also get electronic pull-tab tickets online.


Dailies refer to the “Pick Three,” “Pick Four,” or “Fantasy Five” lottery games. In actual sense, the drawings for these games occur multiple times in a day.

These are a variant of the traditional Lotto games. Players choose three, four, or five numbers randomly between 0-9. If you aim to match up the numbers in order, that’s called “straight” while playing for a random order is called “box.”

Matching your numbers with the drawn numbers wins you different cash prizes.

The Process of Claiming a Lottery Prize

The Process of Claiming a Lottery Prize

Now that we’ve covered the types of lottery tickets, how to play them, and where you can buy them, let’s look at the process of claiming your lottery winnings.

If you win a few dollars from a lottery ticket you’ve just bought at a grocery store, chances are, you’ll get the cash right there and then if the store owner has that amount available. The only necessary verification is your identification, but since you were right there purchasing the ticket, it’s obvious that you are the true winner of that lottery prize.

On the other hand, cashing in on prizes isn’t as fast and easy if the payout is large, let alone if you hit the jackpot. This is because the bigger wins understandably go through an intense verification process.

So from the time you discover you’ve won a lottery prize to the time you lay hands on the cash depends on various factors, the most important being the time it will take to verify your ticket win.

Here are the different steps involved in lottery ticket verification plus other measures taken in the process of claiming a lottery prize.

Internal Investigations

Internal Investigations

As we’ve already stated, the intensity of lottery ticket verification depends on the amount you’ve won. So keep in mind that these detailed investigations we’re going to look at will mostly be implemented for really high payouts or the jackpot. Otherwise, a few hundred dollar wins can be quickly cashed out at the store.

Now, when you win a significant lottery prize and head over to the state lottery office or the headquarters to claim your prize, an internal investigation begins. This is the process of reviewing the entire draw process to ensure it was eligible, honest, and meets all rules and regulations.

An internal investigation looks into the lottery operator or regulator. The operator is simply the store where you bought your lottery ticket. Investigators will confirm whether the store actually sold you the ticket. They go through the operator’s internal records and look at surveillance footage of the retail shop.

Some of the details investigators will be looking for include: footage of the winner purchasing the ticket, any person who was with them, and the day and time of purchase.

The whole point is to get as many details around the drawing process from the retailer’s end. These details will then be compared with what the winner will report. And if both parties’ reports tally, then that is part of the proof needed to verify the lottery win.

Investigation of the Winner

Investigation of the Winner

Winners of big lottery prizes are taken through an intense investigation. A series of interviews are conducted to gather as much information around the draw as possible.

To begin with, the identity of the winner has to be verified. The prize claimant has to prove they are who they say they are. Valid photo identification should be provided plus the person’s social security number (for US citizens).

Some of the questions asked during the interviews include:

  • Where was the ticket bought?
  • How many other tickets were bought, if any?
  • What day and time was it?
  • When did the winner realize they had won?
  • Was there any other person with them at the time of purchase?

As you can see, these are details that will be compared with the information gathered from the lottery operator, as we’ve explained above.

The winner may also be asked about their history of playing the lottery, whether they’ve ever won before, and if they normally buy other lottery tickets. Some questions may even feel a bit intrusive, like what the winner plans on doing with all that cash.

At the end of the day, the lottery is concerned about rewarding the correct ticket holder who the true winner of the prize is.

Verification of Group Wins

Verification of Group Wins

In most cases, people buy lottery tickets alone and hope to hit the jackpot and have all the money to themselves. But also, a group of individuals can come together and purchase one lottery ticket with the intention of sharing out the cash prize if they do win.

In both instances, if the ticket results in a prize, investigators will conduct the verification process. It’s all straight forward for an individual as we’ve already seen. But what happens with a group win?

Interestingly, there is no big difference when verifying a group win. The reason being, the lottery ticket should be signed by just one person. So, even if a group bought the ticket, they will designate one of their members to sign his/ her name on the back of the ticket. The lottery encourages the designated player to also write the group’s name, but that is not mandatory.

So, at the end of the day, the designated player of a group win is the only one who’ll go through the verification process and collect the cash prize. They can then share out the amount among the group members as they had agreed.

Policy on Retailer Wins

One of the first steps in the verification of lottery tickets involves making sure the winner is eligible for the win. Age is of utmost importance. Some states require one to be 18 years or above, while some have 21 as the cut off age.

But what about retailers and employees of retailers? Are they allowed to purchase lottery tickets? Well, once again, it depends on the policies under the state gaming commission, but also, the type of lottery ticket matters.

Some states prohibit retailers from purchasing lottery tickets. These include direct employees of:

  • Suppliers of gaming equipment
  • The lottery regulator or operator
  • Industries doing business with lottery regulators or operators

In such cases, you will notice that even relatives of these employees are not allowed to play that lottery. Luckily, for most states, there are no such prohibitions for retailers and their relatives.

Even so, if an employee of a retailer does win a lottery prize, this is known as an “insider win.” The person goes through a more intensive verification process in comparison to a “non-insider” winner. More questions are asked and thorough investigation is done. The reason for all these is to avoid any negative public perception that the employee may have rigged the system from inside.

Can Your Claim Be Verified if You Lose Your Ticket?

Can Your Claim Be Verified if You Lose Your Ticket?

Can you imagine being so lucky as to win a huge lottery prize and then facing the unfortunate situation of losing the winning ticket? Yes, losing that prized ticket is unfortunate because you cannot claim any lottery prize without presenting the physical ticket.

So what do you do if you lose your ticket? The best-case scenario would be finding it within the stipulated time frame of claiming the prize. That way, you can go on and claim your prize.

The next best scenario can only occur if you had signed the back of the lottery ticket and maybe even written your name. If you did and someone finds the ticket, they can hand it back to you and you can claim your winnings.

The bottom line is that you need to have the physical winning ticket, proof ownership of the ticket, and claim your prize within the stipulated time frame.

On the flip side, if you are the one who happens to find a lost winning ticket, you can find the rightful owner if they signed it and hand it back to them. If there’s no name or signature on the back, then you can go ahead and claim the prize, but you must inform the authorities that you did not buy the ticket but happened to just find it.

This way, you won’t be open to charges of fraud if the rightful owner eventually comes forward. And if no one else claims the ticket before its expiry, you can end up reaping the rewards. Just remember that honesty really is the best policy.

Lottery Wins and Press Releases

Lottery Wins and Press Releases

Although this is not part of the verification process, the ticket winner can be asked if interested in attending a conference for press coverage of the win. Big lottery wins, especially the jackpot, are obviously news-worthy and the idea of appearing on television may also add to the excitement of the winner.

Even so, this is not necessarily mandatory for the prize winner. But if they do accept, the press release may be staged at the store where the winning ticket was bought or the lottery headquarters.

Some of the questions asked by the investigators during the verification process will be included in the conference. And least of all, the winner’s name and their hometown will be announced publicly.


The verification process of winning lottery tickets cuts across all types of tickets with just a few differences here and there. So no matter which ticket you buy, in case you discover you’ve won a significant amount, be patient as you may not get the cash as soon as you would expect.

For most lotteries, the process of conducting investigations may take two weeks or even 21 days. For jackpots, it may even go for more than a month before the winner finally gets their cash prize.

But all this is in the best interest of everyone because the lottery will ensure the legitimacy of the drawing and that the rightful prize recipient is rewarded.