While Tennesseans can still buy lottery tickets right now, the process of claiming a big prize has changed somewhat. That’s because the state has closed its Tennessee Lottery claim centers amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Those with tickets for such prizes aren’t left out in the cold right now, however. They merely have to account for a procedural change.
Details on the closure of Tennessee Lottery claim centers
All four such offices in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville are closed. The TN Lottery made the decision to protect the health of its workers and help to slow the spread of COVID-19.
It’s unclear how long the closure will last. The lottery will continue to award prizes during this time.
Tennesseeans who have winning tickets for prizes of $600 or less can redeem those tickets at any TN Lottery retailer. For prizes of at least $601, you can mail your winning ticket to:
Tennessee Education Lottery
P.O. Box 290636
Nashville, TN 37229-0636
You must sign the back of your ticket prior to mailing it off. Additionally, you must provide a photocopy of a valid government-issued ID and proof of your Social Security number.
Proof of your SSN can include a copy of your Social Security card, valid driver’s license (from any state), a pay stub, a voter registration card, a passport or a military ID. Do not send original documents, photocopies only.
The third thing you must include is a completed claim form. You can either download one or obtain one at any lottery retailer still open. The TN Lottery also recommends you send your redemption request via registered mail.
Processing times will vary for different games and prizes. Players have 180 days to claim prizes won in draw-style games (Mega Millions, Powerball) and 90 days for instant-win (scratch-offs) tickets.
So far, the TN Lottery has not altered those timeframes. If that changes, there will be further announcements.
What there won’t be any announcements on for the time being is the rollout of legal sportsbooks in TN. That could be on hold for quite some time.
TN Lottery delaying sports betting meetings as well
The TN Lottery board can’t hold its meetings right now because state law requires such meetings to be open to the public. As TN Gov. Bill Lee has declared a state of emergency over the pandemic, such a meeting can’t take place until Lee rescinds that order.
The big reason why that’s brought everything to a standstill is that the board has yet to vote to finalize regulations for future sportsbook operators. Until that’s done, potential operators can’t even begin to fill out license applications.
As with everything else right now, the situation remains fluid. It partially depends on whether the TN Legislature takes any more action on a bill that would shift regulatory responsibilities from the TN Lottery’s board to the lottery’s Sports Betting Advisory Council.
The Legislature won’t reconvene until June 1, however. A vote to finalize regulations could wait until after then. If that’s the case, sportsbook operators may not get their first crack at licensure until early June.
For the time being, the virus has altered the preferred course of action on many facets of society. Even the TN Lottery isn’t immune and has done all it can to keep people safe.