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Colorado State Lotteries Laws

The majority of states operate an official lottery to help raise revenue for education and other public goods or services. A lottery often includes several different games of chance that offer players the opportunity -- albeit a very slim one -- to win a large sum of money, either through weekly number drawings or scratch-off tickets. The relatively low cost of the games, typically $1 for a single ticket, reflect the very low odds of actually winning a multi-million-dollar jackpot.

Lotteries involve substantial regulation, such as rules for the distribution of revenue and deadlines for claiming prizes. Some, but not all, states participate in multi-state lotteries which tend to have much larger jackpots (such as "Mega Millions").

Colorado State Lottery Laws: An Overview

The state began operating an official lottery in 1983, including both scratch-off tickets and drawings. Additionally, Colorado is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association and participates in both Mega Millions and Powerball. A state constitutional amendment approved by voters via ballot initiative in 1992 requires lottery revenues to be used for outdoor recreation, wildlife restoration, open space preservation, and parks. The Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund is responsible for distributing lottery proceeds to the appropriate beneficiaries.

As in many other states, the lottery is restricted to those 18 and older and winners have 180 days in which to claim their prize. Lottery winnings may be garnished by the state for the payment of child support debts.

The main provisions of Colorado's state lottery laws are highlighted in the following chart.

Code Section 24-35-201 et seq.
Distribution of Lottery Revenue Of net proceeds: 40% conservation trust fund with 10% going to Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation for acquisition and development; 50% of total revenue for disbursements of prizes
Additional Purpose of Lottery Acquisition of state correctional facilities
Lottery Prize Subject to Garnishment Offset for those who owe child support debt or arrearages up to full amount of prize
Time Limit to Claim Prize/Disposition 180 days
Prohibited Related Activities Sell ticket at greater price; unauthorized sale; sale to minor

Note: State laws are constantly changing, usually through new legislation, ballot initiatives, or higher court rulings. If in doubt, be sure to contact a Colorado gaming attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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