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Washington State Lotteries Laws

Created byВ FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors | Last updated June 20, 2016

Lotteries: A State-Run Tax

Lotteries are ultimately considered a taxable activity designed to bring revenue to state. The history of state-run lotteries in the U.S. began almost 400 years ago under King James I of England. He had the grand idea of creating a lottery in London to aid Jamestown, the first British colony in America.

The colonists enthusiastically embraced England’s lottery tradition and started their own, organizing both public and private lotteries.

State-Run Lotteries Today

These days you don’t have to be a pilgrim wearing black and white clothing with large golden buckles on your shoes and a cloth hat to try your luck at the lottery.

State-run lotteries exist today and can raise quite a bit of revenue in those states which allow them. Lotteries often include a combination of scratch-off tickets and number-picking games with sizable cash prizes. Think smiling Powerball winners displaying $20 million checks for the at-home viewing audience.

Washington State Lottery Laws

Washington’s state lottery laws require the proceeds to be used for education construction, student achievement funding, and for the payment of Seattle’s baseball stadium, Safeco Field. Individuals have 180 days in which to claim prizes for winning tickets.

Gambling Addiction

Problem addiction is a complex health issue that often requires treatment, counseling and support. If you cannot walk away when you’ve reached your limit, or if you find yourself pre-occupied with thoughts of gambling or in conflict with others because of your compulsive gambling activity, call Washington State’s Problem Gambling Helpline for assistance.

The specifics of Washington state lottery laws are detailed in the following chart, with links to related articles and resources.

Code Section 67.70.010, et seq.
Distribution of Lottery Revenue State lottery fund used for: payment of prizes and lottery administration; deposits to education construction and student achievement fund; distribution to county for payment of baseball stadium bonds (for no more than 20 years)
Additional Purpose of Lottery
Lottery Prize Subject to Garnishment On prizes over $600, any debts to state agency or political subdivision may be setoff
Time Limit to Claim Prize/Disposition 180 days/retained in state lottery fund for further use as prizes
Prohibited Related Activities Sale to minors; sale at greater price; altered/forged tickets

Note: State laws are constantly changing — contact a Washington gaming attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

  • Washington Law
  • Official State Codes – Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.

Washington State Lottery Laws: Related Resources

Chart providing details of Washington State Lotteries Laws

Staying Anonymous After Winning the Lottery

How Do Multiple Winners Claim a Lottery Ticket?

Patricia Wood, whose father won a share of the Washington State Lottery in 1993, told CNN, “I wish he’d had the option of staying anonymous.” When Wood’s father mentioned his desire to help family members, relatives emerged from everywhere. Wood’s experience is not unique among lottery winners, but staying anonymous is not always possible. However, according to state rules and the preference of lottery administrators, some winners have found ways to stay in the background.

Pitfalls

While it may be human nature to want to flaunt it when you’ve got it, some lottery winners do question that logic. They’ll start hearing from family members and friends, charities and self-proclaimed “financial experts” who want to help them control the cash. Some of these people are bound to be unscrupulous. Prize winners often fall prey to scams and even serious blackmail plots. For these reasons, many would prefer to take the cash without revealing their identity.

State Disclosure Rules

Most states, including those that participate in multi-state lotteries such as the Powerball or Mega Millions, demand the winners names go public. Some states will publish the winner’s name, while others insist the winners appear at a press conference. Even when smiling for the cameras isn’t required, winners may find their privacy is still compromised. MSN reported that the neighborhood of a 2012 lottery winner in Arizona was deluged with members of the media right after his name was published.

Credibility

Lottery runners claim identity disclosure of winners is essential to prove the games are on the up-and-up. Otherwise, lotteries might be tainted with speculation that insiders are benefiting from large jackpots. Jeff Hatch-Miller, executive director of the Arizona Lottery, told MSN winners are “essentially entering into a large contract with the government that is public.” It’s also good for business. Lotteries claim the publicity shots of winners — such as the classic shot of the everyday person holding up a large check with a huge number — encourages people to buy tickets.

Successfully Staying Unknown

Some lottery winners have been successful in remaining behind the scenes. They set up a trust or a limited liability company to claim the money, and a lawyer shows up to get the cash. This may be an option for winners who normally have some time — 60 days for the lump-sum cash option in the case of Powerball — before they have to come forward. In addition, as of 2013, winners in Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota and Ohio could choose to skip the spotlight entirely.

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Patricia Wood, whose father won a share of the Washington State Lottery in 1993, told CNN, "I wish he’d had the option of staying anonymous." When Wood’s father mentioned his desire to help family members, relatives emerged from everywhere. Wood’s experience is not unique among lottery winners, but … ]]>