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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Online games? You mean I can buy lottery tickets over the Internet?
A: No. The term "online game" has nothing to do with the Internet. In fact, you are only allowed to buy lottery tickets from a licensed lottery retailer. The term "online" refers to our Pick 3, Pick 4, CASH POP, Palmetto Cash 5, Mega Millions® and Powerball® games. The word "online" is used because the terminals used to validate and dispense the tickets have an "always on" data line that connects the retailer's terminal to a centralized computer system.

Q: The number in the lower right corner of my ticket matches the number in a box at the bottom. Did I just win a prize?
A: These numbers have nothing to do with winning a prize. The number found in the lower right corner is the ticket number.

Q: Why do some numbers on an instant ticket have letters next to them, and what do the letters mean?
A: The letters are part of a code that helps retailers sight-validate tickets in the event their machine is not working properly. These letters do not change the amount of prize money you win.

Q: Can I use a check or credit card to buy lottery tickets?
A: No. All lottery tickets MUST be paid for with CASH.

Q: I won a prize, now what do I do?
First, SIGN YOUR TICKET in the space provided on the ticket back! Tickets are bearer instruments, meaning if you lose a ticket before you sign it, you no longer have valid ownership of the ticket. Once your ticket is signed, if the winnings are valued at $500 or less, you may redeem your ticket at any Lottery Retailer. Lottery Retailers can award up to $500 in cash, store check, money order or a combination thereof. Winnings over $500 up to and including $100,000 may be claimed by mail or at the Columbia Claims Center. To redeem winnings by mail: fill out a claim form and include a copy of a picture identification card (driver's license, state or military I.D., or passport), then mail the signed ticket, the claim form, and the copy of the I.D. (via registered mail) to the Columbia Claims Center. Winnings greater than $100,000 must be redeemed in person at the Columbia Claims Center.

Q: What happens if I lose a winning ticket?
A: SCEL is not responsible for lost or stolen tickets. If you lose a ticket, it is like losing cash and cannot be replaced. To protect yourself against theft, always SIGN YOUR WINNING TICKET as soon as you realize the ticket is a winner. Also, if you are not cashing the ticket immediately, fill out the entire ticket back. This may increase your chances of having a lost ticket returned to you.

Q: Where is the Columbia Claims Center?
The Columbia claims center is located at 1309 Assembly St.

Q: What are the odds of winning a prize in the Lottery?
. The odds for each game vary and are printed on the back of every ticket and in the "Games" section of our website. Also, every retailer should have a poster somewhere in the store stating the odds of winning for every game they carry. The "How to Play" sheets for all of SCEL's current Scratch-offs contain the odds information and are available at all retail locations.

Q: I'm having trouble locating a lottery retailer near me, can you help?
Yes. Simply check out our Retailer Locater.

Q: How old do I have to be to buy lottery tickets?
A: You must be 18 years of age or older on the day you purchase the ticket.

Q: I live out of state. Can I still play the South Carolina Education Lottery?
Yes, but you can only purchase your tickets in South Carolina.

Q: Am I charged sales tax on lottery tickets?

Q: Am I charged state and federal taxes on my lottery winnings?
A: Yes. SCEL will withhold taxes from lottery winnings over $500. Reporting amounts of less than $500 is the responsibility of each individual winner.

Q: How long do I have to redeem a prize I won on a scratch-off ticket?
A: You have 90 days after the official end of the game. The official end of games will be posted at our retail locations as well as on our website.

Q: How long do I have to redeem a prize I won on an online ticket?
A: Pick 3, Pick 4, CASH POP, Palmetto Cash 5, Mega Millions® and Powerball® tickets can be redeemed up to 180 days after the draw date printed on the ticket. Check ending game dates for Scratch-offs on the Prizes Remaining Report that is updated daily.

Q: How often do you introduce new scratch-off games?
A: Generally two to four or more Scratch-off games a month are introduced, however the number of new games may vary depending on inventory and ticket sales.