Skip to Main Content of this Page
Player Protection FAQs Home FAQs Player Protection FAQs

Player Protection FAQs


The games of the South Carolina Education Lottery are designed for entertainment. The Lottery's mission is: To provide, with integrity, entertainment options to adults to support education in South Carolina. To achieve the mission, SCEL is committed to protecting the Lottery's integrity by conducting games in a secure manner.

To ensure players have positive experiences when playing SCEL's games, the Lottery encourages all players to SIGN THEIR TICKETS in INK IMMEDIATELY upon purchase. Lottery tickets are bearer instruments which mean the Lottery must pay the person who physically holds a winning ticket when a claim is made. By signing the ticket you claim ownership, and the signature helps to protect you in the event the ticket is stolen or misplaced. SCEL is not responsible for lost or stolen tickets.


Q: What can I do to protect myself when making a lottery purchase?
A: Players can protect themselves by checking their tickets at the point of purchase.

Instant (Scratch) Ticket Purchases:
When purchasing a scratch ticket, check the face of the ticket to ensure the latex covering the play area is undamaged. If any part of the latex is removed, do not accept the ticket.

Online Ticket Purchases:
The use of a play slip may help ensure the accuracy of an online ticket purchase. The clerk at the lottery teminal should confirm the details of your online ticket purchase and verify the price prior to printing the ticket.

Each player is responsible for checking:

  • the ticket is legible;
  • the ticket represents the numbers you selected; and
  • the ticket is for the drawing(s) you wish to enter before leaving the retail location. Players should check that the ticket is not damaged due to a misfeed by the terminal and is complete.

Pick 3 and Pick 4 players should also verify the correct: 1) play type, 2) draw date(s) , and 3) bet amount. If there is an error in the Pick 3 or Pick 4 ticket, have the retailer CANCEL the ticket and print another. REFUSE to pay for a ticket that is not printed clearly or is not exactly what you requested. A player has a specific amount of time to cancel a Pick 3 or Pick 4 ticket. In some cases because of the time of the draw, the player may not be able to have a Pick 3 or Pick 4 ticket canceled.

Palmetto Cash 5, Powerball®, and Mega Millions® tickets CANNOT be CANCELED.

NOTE: SCEL CANNOT give refunds for: 1) an online ticket after the drawing has been held, or 2) an instant ticket after the ticket has been scratched. It is the player's responsibility to verify the tickets at the time of purchase.

Q: What is the "draw break" and why would it make a difference in canceling a Pick 3 or Pick 4 ticket purchase?
A: Prior to each drawing, sales will be temporarily suspended to allow for the drawing. Pick 3 or Pick 4 tickets can only be canceled within twenty (20) minutes of the purchase. The exception is if the twenty-minute period overlaps the draw break that occurs fifteen (15) minutes before a drawing held at the Lottery. A retailer may NOT cancel a ticket sold for a given draw after sales have been suspended for that drawing. Palmetto Cash 5, Powerball®, and Mega Millions® tickets CANNOT be CANCELED.

Q: What should I do if I notice the instant ticket I purchased has missing latex?
A: If an instant ticket just purchased appears to be defaced or tampered with, the retailer should replace the ticket or refund the purchase price when brought to his or her attention immediately. It is most important to bring the missing latex to the clerk's notice before leaving the establishment. If a player is not satisfied with a retailer's response if an instant ticket the player just purchased is brought to the retailer's attention, then the player should call the Lottery at 1-866-736-9819 and request to speak with the Security Department. The toll-free Player Information Number is printed on each lottery ticket and is answered during regular business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. , Monday through Friday. If a player needs to report a newly purchased ticket that appears to have been tampered with in the evening or on the weekend, the player should leave a message containing his or her name, telephone number, and note the name of the clerk, the time of day, the name of the retailer and the retail location when leaving a message for the Security Department. SCEL's Security Department will follow up with the customer and investigate the location.

Q: Should I purchase a "mistake ticket?"
A: Remember Palmetto Cash 5, Powerball®, and Mega Millions® tickets CANNOT be CANCELED. Sometimes a customer requests a ticket and then does not want the ticket. Retailers cannot get credit for a legible ticket that just happened to be printed in error and, therefore, may ask the next customer requesting the particular type of ticket if they would be willing to purchase an already printed ticket. As long as the ticket is for the upcoming drawing and not a drawing in the past, it is a valid ticket. Some players consider these "mistake tickets" to be lucky.

Q: What should I do if someone offers to "sell" me a winning ticket?
A: Purchase your SCEL tickets ONLY from a licensed lottery retailer. If someone approaches you and offers a winning ticket at a discount, refuse the offer and contact the Lottery immediately at 1-866-736-9819, during regular business hours. Call the Lottery's toll-free Player Information Line and ask for the Security Department. If a scammer approached you and you turned them away, they will try the scam on another lottery player, so please report the incident. The South Carolina Education Lottery prosecutes scammers who try to take advantage of lottery players.

One common scam is the "hard luck" story that has to do with why the "winner" can't claim the "winning ticket" themselves. They are not: a resident of the state; a U.S. citizen; or finished with a divorce settlement. The idea is to have someone "split the win" and give them money so they won't have to pay: a soon-to-be-ex spouse, child support, back taxes, U.S. taxes or college loans.

Who Is Eligible to Play

Three sections of the South Carolina Code of Laws, 1976, address who can legally play the Lottery: Section 59-150-210(D) and Sections 59-150-230(F) and (G).

  • The first section restricts players to those persons who are 18 years of age or older on the day the ticket is purchased.
  • According to the South Carolina Education Lottery Act, "a lottery game ticket or share must not be purchased by and a prize must not be paid to a member of the board, an officer or employee of the commission, or a spouse, child, brother, sister, or parent residing as a member of the same household in his principal place of residence. A lottery game ticket or share must not be purchased by and a prize must not be paid to an officer, employee, agent, or a subcontractor of a lottery vendor [The definition of "vendor" does not include an SCEL retailer or its employees. ], or a spouse, child, brother, sister, or parent residing as a member of the same household in his principal place of residence if he has access to confidential information that may compromise the integrity of the lottery. " (Emphasis added.)
  • The last section states: A lottery prize must not be paid to a person who is incarcerated.
  • In 2002, the State Attorney General's Office issued an "advisory opinion" on whether state officers and elected officials may play the Lottery. You may want to check with that office for more information. The Secretary of State's Office issued a press release related to notaries public and referred questions on the Attorney General's opinion to the Attorney General's Office. The Attorney General's Office can be reached by calling (803) 734-3970 or by email at

You do not have to be a resident of South Carolina to play, but you must purchase your lottery tickets and claim any prize in South Carolina.


Pursuant to Section 59-150-330(F) of the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, prizes of $5,000 or more trigger a "debt set off" search for any debt owed to the State or "any state or local agency, department, board, bureau, commission, or authority. " [Section 59-150-330(B) (1) ] "Debt set off" means the money a winner owes may be deducted from their lottery winnings.

Pursuant to Section 59-150-330(D) (3) , winnings are withheld when a lien or debt exists against the winner of the following types:" (3) The liens created by this section rank among themselves as follows:

  1. taxes due the State;
  2. delinquent child support;
  3. delinquent student loans; and
  4. all other judgments and liens in order of the date entered or perfected."

Depending on the circumstances of the debt, the "other judgments or liens" could include medical bills.

When a winner claims winnings of $5,000 or more though the mail and debt or liens are found and withheld, the winner will be notified by mail; if a winner claims winnings of $5,000 or more in person, the winner will be notified at the time the winnings are claimed that winnings are being withheld to offset a debt or lien.

The debtor has thirty (30) days to protest in writing the withholding of the funds. If the debtor does not protest within thirty (30) days, the Lottery Commission will pay the funds over to the claimant agency. If the debtor protests the withholding of funds, in writing, within thirty days of the notice, the commission shall file an action in interpleader in the circuit court of the county in which the debtor resides, pay the disputed sum to the court, and give notice to the agency owed the debt and the winner owing the debt of the legal action.

If, a person who is a scammer has a winning ticket to split, he or she is most likely attempting to get around these laws. But, in most cases, a scammer is probably trying to sell a worthless or tampered with ticket. Please inform the Security Department if you are approached about buying a winning ticket.



Q: Why should I sign my ticket after purchasing it? Why not wait to sign it when I know if I have a winner?
A: SCEL is not responsible for lost or stolen tickets. If you lose a winning ticket, it is like losing cash and cannot be replaced. To protect yourself against theft, always sign the back of your ticket in ink immediately after making the purchase. Also, if you are not cashing the ticket immediately, LEGIBLY fill out the entire area for personal information on the ticket back. A ticket with your contact information on the back will: 1) increase your chances of having a lost ticket returned to you, and 2) make it difficult for anyone else to claim your ticket.

Q: What happens if I lose a winning ticket?
A: SCEL is not responsible for lost or stolen tickets. However, prizes in excess of $500 must be redeemed at the Columbia Claims Center. A person making a claim at the Columbia Claims Center must fill in and sign a claim form and present an identification card (driver's license, military or state I.D., or passport) that includes a photo and date of birth. If you have signed the back of a winning ticket and it becomes lost or is stolen, if the ticket is presented at the Claims Center for cashing, the signature on the back of the ticket will be compared to the signature on the claim form and the identification card presented. If the signature on the ticket is altered, has been crossed out, or does not match the signature on the claim form or the identification card, SCEL will hold an investigation before the claim is paid. This procedure may help locate and determine the actual winner-IF YOU SIGNED the ticket back and completely filled out the personal information on the back.

Q: If I discover I have purchased a winning ticket, what should I do to safeguard my win?
A: First-SIGN THE TICKET and completely and legibly fill out the personal information area. For large wins, or if you will be mailing in your winning ticket for redemption, make a photocopy of both sides of your signed ticket to prove the winning ticket is yours. Having a photocopy will provide a record if the ticket is lost in the mail or misplaced. Once copied, place both the copies and the ticket in secure places until your prize is claimed.



Q: How should I protect myself when checking my tickets?
A: You should educate yourself about the game so that you know: 1) if you are holding a winning ticket, and 2) the amount of the winnings prior to having the ticket validated. Players are strongly encouraged to check their own tickets. SCEL has ticket checkers at many retailers in the Lottery's network. First remove the latex on the ticket's front then scan the barcode found underneath. The ticket checker device will display if the ticket is or is not a winner and the amount won, if the amount is $500 or less. Winnings in excess of $500 will receive a message to "Claim Ticket at Lottery."

While ticket checkers are valuable for verifying instant tickets and useful for online tickets, online ticket players have many additional methods for checking their tickets: 1) watch the drawings; 2) check winning numbers on the website,; 3) ask a retailer to print out a winning numbers report from the terminal; 4) call the toll-free Player Information Line number at 1-866-736-9819 during regular business hours; and 5) call the IWON line at (803) 734-4966.

Q: What is the IWON line and how do I use it?
A: SCEL maintains a phone number to use for checking winning numbers for online games. Players may call the IWON line at 1-(803) 734-4966. This telephone number is NOT toll-free. Players dialing outside the Columbia, SC, calling area will have to pay long-distance charges.

In order to check the winning numbers for a particular draw, a player must know the date of the drawing. Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings are held twice a day, once at 12:59 p.m. and again at 6:59 p.m every day but Sunday. Midday drawings are not held on Sundays or Christmas Day. Palmetto Cash 5 drawings are held seven days a week at 6:59 p.m. Powerball® drawings are held on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday nights at 10:59. Mega Millions® draws are held on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 p.m.

To find out winning numbers from the most current drawing or from past draws, you must call 1-803-734-IWON (4966) from a touch-tone phone. The numbers from the most recent SCEL drawings will be available after 7:30 p.m. each night. Powerball® and Mega Millions® numbers should be available within a couple of hours of the drawing. This line is only for finding the winning numbers. If you have any other questions regarding the South Carolina Education Lottery, please call the toll-free Player Information number at 1-866-736-9819 during regular business hours or visit our website at

The IWON line answers with a message that gives you two options: 1) Press 1 to hear the winning numbers from the most recent drawing, or 2) Press 2 to search for winning numbers by entering a specific date. To enter the date, you must follow the Month, Day, Year format. Example, for March 5, 2018, you would enter 030518 from your telephone key pad. For single digit numbers, you must presszero and then the number. You will be able to hear all of the winning numbers for each game held that day. You cannot check more than one day per call.



Q: How should I protect myself when redeeming my ticket?
A: A player should: 1) SIGN THE TICKET; 2) check to ensure the ticket is a winner; and 3) know the amount of the winnings before having the ticket validated. For winnings up to and including $500, have your ticket validated at your favorite lottery retailer. If at the retailer, there is a question about the prize level or whether a ticket is a winner or not, the player should take the ticket to the Columbia Claims Center. Prizes in excess of $100,000 must be claimed at the Columbia Claims Center.

For winnings of $500 or less, simply sign and fill in the back of the winning ticket and mail to:
SC Education Lottery
PO Box 11039
Columbia, SC 29211-1039

Winnings over $500, up to and including $100,000, may be claimed though the mail or at the Columbia Claims Center. To redeem winnings in excess of $500 by mail: fill out a claim form, include a copy of a picture identification card (driver's license, state or military I.D., or passport) and mail the signed ticket, the claim form, and the copy of the I.D. (via registered mail) to the address above.

Make a copy of the winning ticket for your records, to help if the ticket becomes lost in the mail. The risk of mailing tickets remains with the player. (Registered mail is recommended. )

Winnings over $100,000 must be redeemed in person at the Columbia Claims Center.

Q: Do I have to pay a commission to the retailer for redeeming my ticket?
A: No, SCEL's retailers are prohibited from charging a commission or a fee for cashing a winning ticket up to and including $500. A retailer cannot demand that a winner make a purchase with the winnings. If a retailer charges a commission or fee or demands a winner make a purchase, please report it through the Player Information Line and contact the Security Department at 1-866-736-9819.

The lottery contract specifies that a retailer must pay ticket winnings up to and including $500. If a retailer does not have cash on hand to pay a winner, the retailer may use a check or a money order to pay the prize, but is prohibited from charging the player for the money order. Claims in excess of $500 must be redeemed at the Columbia Claims Center.

Players do not pay sales tax when purchasing a lottery ticket and taxes are not deducted on winnings up to and including $500. If a lottery player is charged tax on the purchase of a ticket or has taxes deducted when making a claim under $500.01, the player is urged to call the Player Information Line at 1-866-736-9819 and request the Security Department.

Q: What should I do if the retailer redeeming my ticket and I do not agree on the amount of the winnings?
A: When having a ticket scanned, the terminal will print a receipt stating if the ticket is a winner or not. Players can always request a copy of the terminal receipt at the time of validation. For non-winning tickets, players may request to have their original tickets returned to them. Please note, retailers can only print a terminal receipt at the time the ticket is scanned. Players cannot return at some later time to receive a copy of the terminal receipt. The terminal can only print the last transaction. If the retailer does not provide you with your non-winning ticket or the terminal receipt, call the SCEL's Security Department at 1-866-736-9819.

Q: How can I tell if the terminal receipt the retailer returns to me is for the ticket I brought for validation?
A: There are two places to check to ensure the terminal receipt presented is for the last transaction. First, the terminal receipt will have the current time-date stamp for the last transaction. If the receipt is for another day or time, ask the retailer for a copy of the last transaction.

Second, the actual 11-digit ticket number displayed on the receipt should match the ticket number above the bar code on the back of the ticket. If, 1) the time-date stamp is not correct, and 2) the 11-digit ticket number on the receipt does not match the ticket number on the ticket you signed, you have not received the correct receipt.

On the back of SCEL's tickets, both online and scratch-off, is the Player Information Line number, 1-866-736-9819, which is answered during normal business hours. Should a player have a concern about the winnings they received, the player can call the Lottery and request the Security Department. If a player calls immediately after cashing the ticket, Security staff can track the transaction at the retailer location and confirm the amount of the winnings. If they cashed the ticket in the evening or on the weekend, by using the information from the terminal receipt, the player can verify the retailer location and which ticket was cashed. With the information from the terminal receipt, Security staff can confirm the prize amount that should have been paid.

Q: Can I take my ticket to another retailer to claim the winnings if I don't agree with the first retailer I take my ticket to?
A: No, SCEL's lottery tickets can be validated only once. The ticket will not scan correctly the second time once the ticket has been validated. Players do not have to return to the retailer where they purchased the ticket to cash the ticket, but a ticket can only be validated once. Tickets with winnings in excess of $500 that are scanned at a retailer terminal or ticket checker will provide the information that the ticket is a winner, but will not validate the ticket, as retailers cannot redeem tickets greater than $500. The player must bring or mail the scanned but not validated ticket worth over $500 to the Columbia Claims Center for redemption.

Q: How do I claim my winnings on a multi-draw ticket if I still have draws remaining?
A: All of SCEL's online draw games allow for the purchase of Multi Draws. When a player selects Multi Draw, the draws purchased are for the next draw followed by the next consecutive number of draws depending on the number of draws purchased. When redeeming a winning ticket with future draws remaining, the terminal will automatically print a REISSUED ticket at the time the original multiple-draw ticket is cashed. Players who enjoy the convenience of purchasing several draws in the future must make sure they received the REISSUED ticket at the time they cash in any winnings for the earlier draws.

Q: How would a group of players claim a winning ticket?
A: Only one check will be issued by the Columbia Claims Center for a winning ticket. Only one member of the winning group must come forward to file the claim. The claim form will specify if the claimant is an individual winner or a member of a winning group. At the time the prize is awarded, the original claimant should be given an IRS Form 5754. In filling out the Form 5754, it is the responsibility of the group of winners to explain how the prize was dispersed to each member of the group. If making a claim by mail, the claimant must download a Form 5754 from the IRS' website at From the IRS' website, it is possible to download forms by form number. Once the Form 5754 is returned to the South Carolina Education Lottery, each group member will be sent a W-2G form for tax purposes.

Q: I have seen reports on television and read in newspapers and the Web about retailers in other states stealing winning tickets from lottery players. What is the South Carolina Education Lottery doing to protect its players?
A: SCEL would like its players to know that player protection begins before retailers are even licensed. Every location in South Carolina licensed to sell lottery tickets undergoes a background check before receiving a lottery license. Businesses which do not pass the background inspections of both owners and operational managers are not licensed. Lottery retailers must renew their licenses and undergo South Carolina tax compliance checks on the business and criminal background checks on all the owners and operational managers of the company each year.

The Security Department does not publicize the methods used to maintain the integrity of the Lottery's operations, but the methods may well be similar to and may include those shown on news reports.

Player feedback is very important. If a player feels that he or she has been mislead or mistreated at any time when purchasing tickets, checking ticket results, or redeeming a winning ticket, the player is strongly urged to call the Lottery's Player Information Line at 1-866-736-9819 and report the matter to the Security Department.

Q: How prevalent is lottery ticket theft at the South Carolina Education Lottery?
A: The majority of ticket theft cases investigated are cases where lottery tickets are stolen from SCEL's retailers, not cases where retailers steal from players.



In difficult economic times, the number of scams around increases.

Q: I received an email stating I won a lottery. All I have to do is send or wire a small fee (processing fee, insurance fee, handling fee, or pay taxes upfront) . Can you check to see if I won your lottery?
A: In order to win any of SCEL's games, a player must first have entered the game by purchasing a ticket. To check to see if you are a winner, the Claims Center would have to validate your ticket. If you have NOT purchased a ticket, you CANNOT have won one of SCEL's games. The only upfront fee required by a legitimate lottery is the price of a ticket. You would only receive a prize notification from SCEL if you specifically entered your ticket(s) in one of our promotions or second-chance drawings.

Legitimate lotteries do NOT:

  • Call collect;
  • Ask for credit card numbers or bank information;
  • Guarantee you will win a prize or require you to join a prize pool; and/or
  • Ask a winner to pay anything upfront in order to receive a prize.

If you receive notice through email or the U.S. mail implying you have won this or any other lottery and know that you have not purchased a ticket, the notice is a SCAM. If the notice requires you to pay any fee to receive the winnings, the notice is a SCAM. While taxes are withheld from winnings above a certain amount as mandated by state and federal law, no legitimate lottery requires a processing fee before releasing the winnings. If the notice is from an "International Lottery," playing such a lottery would be a violation of federal law. The South Carolina Education Lottery is the only legal lottery in this state. If you receive lottery materials from a foreign country, give them to your postmaster.

If you feel you have received or been the victim of a fraudulent lottery offer:

  • Contact the Identity Theft Unit of the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs toll-free 1-844-835-5322 or fill out the complaint form at if you have been the victim of a lottery scam.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or fill out a complaint form on the FTC's website at if you have been the victim of telemarketing fraud.
  • Forward the suspicious e-mail to the Federal Trade Commission's address for unsolicited commercial e-mail at; and
  • Notify the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) of the FBI by filing a complaint on their website at:

There are several websites that can provide additional information on Lottery SCAMS: