A person with a felony conviction can play and collect winnings from the California Lottery. The rules for the California Lottery do not prohibit a convicted felon from playing games offered by the state lottery, which include Super Lotto Plus, Mega Millions and Powerball. Super Lotto Plus is exclusive to California. Mega Millions and Powerball are also offered by other states.
Winners Cannot Be Anonymous
The California Lottery does not allow an individual with a winning ticket to remain anonymous. This means that should a convicted felon win, certain information about their identity will be discoverable.
The California Lottery is subject to public disclosure laws that allow it to share a lottery jackpot winner’s full name, the name and location of the retailer who sold the person the winning lottery ticket, the date an individual won and the amount of their prize money, including their gross and net installment payments. The Lottery will not disclose other personal or identifying information without the winner’s permission unless it is legally required to do so.
The California Lottery could theoretically be subject to a subpoena to provide information in a court case. The public disclosure rules provide an avenue for a victim of a convicted felon to learn the former offender’s financial standing. The victim could then know if the former offender had the means to pay restitution, money for damages owed in a criminal case. The victim could also know if the former offender had assets that the victim could hope to recover in a civil case.
Information a Claimant Must Provide
A Lottery claimant is required to provide their first name, last name, address, date of birth, phone number, email address, Social Security number or Taxpayer Identification Number, ticket number, prize claim, signature and date of their signature on the claimant form. The claimant must also disclose whether they are a Lottery retailer, employed by a Lottery retailer or related to a Lottery retailer.
A claimant must state whether they do not have a Social Security number and are not a U.S. citizen or resident alien. The form asks claimants to share some voluntary demographic information as well, such as race/ethnicity, annual household income, gender and the number of people in their household.
The California Lottery does not require a claimant to go through a background check in order to claim a prize. The Lottery may disclose information that a claimant provides to various state and federal agencies, including the California Controller’s Office, the California Franchise Tax Board, the California Health and Welfare Agency and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The Lottery will not disclose information on the claimant’s form to members of the public.
The Lottery automatically collects an app or website user’s approximate physical location through their Internet Protocol (IP) address and/or use of geolocation services. The California Lottery may combine different information that it collects and receives from Lottery-affiliated services, as well as information obtained from other companies. This provides the Lottery with information to offer customized services based on location information determined by the user’s IP address.
The Lottery takes reasonable precautions to protect personal information from loss, unauthorized access, illegal use and unauthorized disclosure. The protections include Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption software to protect individuals’ personal information during transmission of this information through the Lottery’s website and mobile app.
Opportunity to Review Personal Information
The California Lottery allows people who provide personal information to review the information; individuals can contest the accuracy or completeness of information. They should make the request by contacting the California Lottery’s privacy coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
No Claim if Fraud
No individual, including a convicted felon, can claim Lottery winnings if they are under 18 years of age or engage in fraud to win the Lottery. When a Lottery winner completes a claim form, they declare under penalty of perjury under California state law that they are the rightful owner of the ticket noted on the form. The claimant must be 18 or older and provide information on the claim form that is true and correct.
A person who falsely makes, alters, forges or counterfeits a lottery ticket is in violation of state law. They could be liable for criminal penalties, which may include jail time and fines.
Taxes and Withholdings From Winnings
California Lottery prizes are not subject to California state income tax. But Federal law requires the Lottery to withhold 24 percent of the winnings for federal taxes for U.S. citizens and resident aliens. Non-U.S. citizens will see 30 percent of their winnings withheld.
Regulations for Retailers with a Criminal Record
A retailer, like a convenience store owner, may not be allowed to sell California Lottery tickets if they have a criminal history. The Lottery provides that in the majority of cases, it will deny an application to sell Lottery tickets or terminate a contract with a retailer if the applicant or retailer has been convicted of, or pleaded nolo contendere (no contest), to any felony. The exception is if the Lottery determines that the applicant or retailer has been rehabilitated. There is a presumption that a felon is rehabilitated if 10 years have passed since the date of the offender’s conviction, provided they had an exemplary record during that period.
The lottery will also deny an application to sell Lottery tickets or terminate a contract with a retailer if the applicant or retailer has been convicted of, or pleaded nolo contendere, to a misdemeanor charge involving dishonesty, lack of integrity, moral turpitude or gambling, unless the applicant or retailer is rehabilitated. Theft is an example of a crime of dishonesty; the crime of trespass does not involve dishonesty. There is a presumption that a person is rehabilitated if six years have passed since the date of the misdemeanor conviction, and the individual had an exemplary record during that period.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.