Lottery Winnings Taken Back from Residents Formerly on State Assistance by NY Government

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Heavily liberal New York has a very surprising conservative policy when it comes to lottery winnings.

If you are a beneficiary of financial government assistance in New York State and decide to try your luck at the state lottery you may want to think twice.

Since 2013 the state of New York has seized an amount approaching $20 million dollars from an estimated 30,000 people in lottery winnings from an estimated 30,000 people who have received any from of public assistance in the last decade. Although several states have similar programs, New York appears to have the most severe.

The program began in 1995 and was a part of welfare reform, the bill, which totals out at over 100 pages,  ends with the clause giving NY the power to seize these winnings.

How it works:

A winning ticket worth more than $600 can only be redeemed from a state lottery center, the lottery center then runs the social security number of the claimant, along with other identifying information against government databases to determine if the winner has had any government assistance in the last 10 years. If it is determined they have, the state can choose to take up to half of the winning amount in order to pay back what they have taken in welfare.

Some NY citizens have come up with a way around this seizure by offering to cash out the tickets of citizens who would be subject to this penalty and cashing out the tickets themselves.

Two of these men- Neil Ferguson, and Eduardo Moran-Barrera were both charged with counts of criminal tax fraud.

Critics of the program include Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, in a quote from Bernal says “New York sate goes after those funds because the intent of state-sanctioned gambling in New York state is to maximize profits. It’s not to promote the public interest. It does not improve peoples lives.”

The program began in 1995, the bill, which totals out at over 100 pages,  ends with the clause giving NY the power to seize these winnings.

Supporters of the policy agree that citizens on welfare should not be using their funds to buy lottery tickets, but if they do they should be forced to give some of the money back to the state in order to pay back what they have received in benefits.

While I deplore the whole idea of welfare it is alas a part of the world we live in today, as long as such programs exist people will utilize them, some may even take advantage of them. If I was to take government assistance and came into a windfall of cash I would feel a personal obligation to give that money back to the tax payers. It would appear that not everyone shares my personal beliefs as the sate of New York has had to resort to seizure in order to retrieve their funds.

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  • Douglas Dmitri Mosier

    This is RIFE with problems! What if the ticket was a gift? what if the ticket was bought AFTER the person got off welfare?