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West Virginia State Lotteries Laws

States have enacted lottery laws since New Hampshire started the first state lottery in 1964. West Virginia started its state lottery in 1986. The supporters of the state lottery point to all of the good deeds it has done for the state, from funding educational efforts to helping the economy. Over $2.8 billion in lottery proceeds have gone to support education. However, state lotteries can also have a dark side, with the vast majority of lottery players spending more on lottery tickets than they'll ever see in winnings.

State Lottery Laws in West Virginia

The following chart outlines the main lottery laws in West Virginia.

Code Section West Virginia Code Chapter 29, Article 22: State Lottery Act
Distribution of Lottery Revenue The West Virginia Lottery is distributed 45% as prizes, 15% to operation and administration expenses, and the rest (40%) is net profit. The net profits are put in the State Excess Lottery Revenue Fund, which funds many worthy causes, including:
  • General Purpose Account ($65 million) spent as decided by the legislators, but also the last item to be funded if net proceeds are low
  • Infrastructure Fund ($40 million)
  • Education Improvement Fund ($29 million) with an additional Higher Education Improvement Fund ($10 million)
  • School Building Debt Service Fund ($19 million)
  • Economic Development Project Fund ($19 million) to build, for example, sports arenas, parks, hiking trails, health clinics, water treatment plants, biotech facilities, telecommunications infrastructure, and retail structures to revitalize decaying downtowns
  • State Park Improvement Fund ($5 million)
Lottery Prize Subject to Garnishment In West Virginia, your lottery winnings can be taken by the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement for delinquent payment of child support or alimony, which is also known as spousal support.
Time Limit to Claim Prize and Disposition A winner has 180 days to claim a lottery prize. After that time period, it goes back to the state lottery fund for the purpose of awarding additional prizes.
Prohibited Related Activities Several activities related to the lottery are prohibited to ensure a fair lottery is run. These crimes include:
  • Altering or forging lotto tickets
  • Selling lottery tickets when not licensed to sell them
  • Selling the tickets at a greater price that they cost
  • Selling lottery tickets to minors under 18 years old

Getting Help for Lottery Winners

If you win a major lottery prize in West Virginia, first, congratulations! Second, immediately seek the help of an experienced local tax expert and estate planning lawyer to create a strategy to collect and protect your winnings. It’s important to develop plans to help maintain anonymity, avoid serious tax consequences, and develop a good financial management plan.

Getting Help with Problem Gambling

If you can’t stop your lottery buying and other gambling, even when you know you can’t afford the tickets, please reach out for help. You can call the Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia has a 24 hour/7 days a week at 1-800-GAMBLER to talk and get appropriate referrals.

Note: State laws change frequently. Please consult with a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to confirm these state lottery laws.

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