Absent-minded WA punters sitting on $35 million in unclaimed TAB bets, lotto tickets

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Josh ZimmermanThe West Australian
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Absent-minded punters have failed to cash in more than $35 million in winning TAB bets and lotto tickets over the past three years.

The extraordinary sum includes a $790,203 division one Saturday Lotto ticket sold in Karratha just last week.

Forgotten — or lost — TAB bets worth $68,500, $48,500 and $21,700 are also waiting for their owners to come forward, forming part of the more than $20 million in unclaimed sport and racing punts made since July 2016.

In that same period, the rightful owners of more than $15 million in lotto winnings have failed to put their hands up.

Punters still have the opportunity to check tickets languishing on fridges, in glove boxes and down couches for about $9 million in lotto winnings outstanding for the current financial year, although senior public relations officer Jennie Fitzhardinge said that number fluctuated daily as lucky punters came forward.

While all of that money is still up for grabs, older lotto wins worth tens of thousands of dollars have now gone begging under Lotterywest’s policy for winning tickets to expire after 12 months, returning the money to the community through grants.

That includes nearly $8.4 million in lotto winnings unclaimed in the two years to July 2018.

The biggest amounts were a pair of OZ Lotto wins worth $17,786.80 from August 2016, $12,525.30 from Monday Lotto in October of the same year, and a Saturday Lotto ticket worth $12,093.55 from April last year.

“Nearly all of the unclaimed prizes are in the lower divisions,” Ms Fitzhardinge said.

“It is very rare that a division one prize would be unclaimed.”

She encouraged anyone taking a punt on lotto to become a Lotterywest member, with their ticket details digitally recorded and not in danger of being lost.

Racing and Wagering WA, which is responsible for the WA TAB, said there had been a notable reduction in unclaimed dividends as an increasing number of customers migrated online.

Nearly $8 million in punts were never paid out in 2016-17, falling to $7.2 million in 2017-18 and just $5.4 million with three weeks remaining in this financial year.

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