Have you ever wondered, “Can minors play the lottery?” Spoiler Alert: YES! That might come as a shock to you since you’re pretty sure that minors can’t even purchase lottery tickets. However, there are some nuances that you should be aware of, especially if the minor ever hopes to claim the prize money.
Can Minors Purchase Lottery Tickets?
Let’s get this out of the way first. No, minors cannot purchase lottery tickets. According to Texas Law, “retailers shall not sell tickets to persons under the age of 18.”
But it isn’t just that simple. Not only are retailers prohibited from selling lottery tickets to persons under 18 years of age, but any ticket bought by, or sold to, a person under 18 is void and any winning prize is treated as unclaimed.
How do Minors Play the Lottery?
Minors can’t buy lottery tickets, and if they do happen to buy the tickets, then the ticket is automatically void. So, how do minors play the lottery?
One word. Gifts! I mean, what kid hasn’t received a lottery ticket from an uncle at Christmas?
That’s right. “A person 18 years of age or older may purchase a ticket to give as a gift to another person, including an individual younger than 18 years of age.”
So, minors can legally receive lottery tickets as gifts, and thereby play the lottery. But this is where the nuances of law come into play because claiming the prize isn’t quite so simple when minors play the lottery.
How do Minors Claim Lottery Prizes?
When minors play the lottery, their ability to claim their prize will depend on how big the prize is. There are 3 types of prizes, and each of them are treated differently for minors.
Prizes Under $600 – When minors play the lottery, and they are entitled to prize money on a winning ticket in an amount less than $600, payment may be made to an adult member of the minor’s family, or to the minor’s guardian, payable to the order of the minor.
The minor’s guardian is someone who is appointed by the Court to act on the minor’s behalf. The minor’s family though is a much broader group of people. The minor’s family includes their parent, stepparent, spouse, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, or aunt, whether of whole or half blood or by adoption.
That means that if the minor has a winning lottery ticket of less than $600.00, then it can be claimed on their behalf by that same adult uncle who bought the ticket as a Christmas present. (and no, he isn’t entitled to a cut despite how much he insists)
Prizes Over $600 – When minors play the lottery, and they are entitled to prize money on a winning ticket in an amount of $600 or more, payment may be made by depositing the amount of the prize in any financial institution to the credit of an adult member of the minor’s family or of the minor’s guardian as custodian for the minor.
This is a really big deal! If a minor happens to receive a lottery ticket as a gift that wins the big money, ($600 up to millions of dollars) then number one, that’s awesome!
Number two, just because the law says that the payment must be deposited into a financial institution to the credit of an adult member of the minor’s family DOESN’T mean that the family member gets to spend that money.
The family member receives the money as custodian for the minor. The family member has specific duties under the Texas Uniform Transfers to Minors Act to protect the minor’s funds, act as a fiduciary, and a number of other duties.
“A person designated to receive payment on behalf of a minor has the powers and duties of a custodian under Chapter 141, Property Code.”
Prizes Other than Money – When minors play the lottery, if the prize is for an award of something other than money, then payment of the cash equivalent must be paid to the minor.
You’ve seen those scratch-off tickets for cars, trucks, and boats. This means that if a 7-year-old’s lottery ticket wins a truck, then they will simply receive the cash equivalent and won’t actually receive the truck.
Warnings from the Texas Lottery Commission
Every Christmas, the Texas Lottery Commission issues warnings against giving lottery tickets as Christmas presents. The reason being that studies have found that exposure to gambling at a younger age increases the risk of gambling addiction later in life.
So, if you’re going help minors play the lottery, please consult their parents first. Also, don’t give lottery tickets as Christmas presents because they are terrible gifts.
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Civil Litigation Division
1101 Broadway, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3303
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479