What to Do With Non-Winning Lottery Tickets, Since They Can't All Be Winners


Dec. 15 2022, Updated 3:35 p.m. ET

What to do with non-winning lottery tickets
Source: Getty Images

Everyone dreams of winning the lottery, but the odds are not in anyone’s favor. In fact, according to The Balance, the odds of winning the Powerball are one in 292.2 million, and for the Mega Millions, your odds are about one in 302.5 million. This means that you’re likely to have quite a few losing tickets in your time. But what do you do with non-winning lottery tickets?

Can they really be repurposed for any second chance lotteries? And can lottery tickets be recycled?

Article continues below advertisement
Lottery tickets
Source: Getty Images

Yea, you wish.

What to do with non-winning lottery tickets:

Sure, you could just recycle or trash your non-winning lottery tickets. You could also use them for arts and crafts. But if you're savvy enough, you might even be able to turn them into another chance to win. To find out how, keep reading.

Article continues below advertisement
Source: Getty Images

Can lottery tickets be recycled?

Yes, lottery tickets can be recycled. But as with so many “recyclable” materials, there are certain caveats attached. Regular old paper lottery tickets without any scratch-off sections are completely recyclable, so feel free to throw them in with your paper recycling. The easiest way to tell if an old lotto ticket is recyclable is to look for the recycling symbol on the back of it.

Article continues below advertisement

If you don't see a symbol, you'll want to make sure it's made of only paper before recycling it. We recommend the "rip test" — if the paper rips easily, you should be safe to recycle it.

If you tear the ticket and see find any plastic or foil, then it's not recyclable. Scratch-offs, since they are generally made of paper, plastic, and foil, aren’t generally recyclable. Nevertheless, some states do accept lottery tickets regardless of their make. Just make sure to check with your local municipality or recycling department's website for the specifics. 

Article continues below advertisement
Lotto ticket
Source: Getty Images

Can non-winning lottery tickets be reused?

Even if you can’t recycle old lottery tickets, that doesn’t mean you just have to throw them away. You can give non-winning to kids, who can use them to play pretend lottery or let them “hold onto the tickets for safe keeping.” You don’t need to tell them it isn’t a winner — they'll love it either way. If you’re not fond of those ideas, you could always make them into art.

Article continues below advertisement

According to Recycle Nation, non-winning lottery tickets can even be an art form. Artists Adam Eckstrom and Lauren Was have been using old lottery tickets in their art for years. Some of their famous works of art include cars, homes, and other elaborate, life-size sculptures. Eckstrom and Lauren collect their tickets from all over the world and create sculpted pieces that symbolize the discarded lottery dreams of the tickets’ previous owners.

Source: Getty Images
Article continues below advertisement

What is a second chance lottery?

According to Work at Home Adventures, a second chance lottery acts as a type of “bonus” that allows you to enter your non-winning numbers into a different drawing. Though there are several states that do not have any sort of lottery at all, most other states do offer some sort of second chance lottery. You’ll have to check with your state lottery website for the specifics, but this brief overview should give you an idea of how it generally works.

To enter into these types of second chance lotteries, you’ll first need to sign up for an online account on your state’s lotto website. Once you have an account, you can then enter your non-winning ticket numbers into the site. Some states will let you reenter regular lotto tickets, others will let you enter scratch-offs, and some will only let you enter only one or the other.

Be mindful of the date on your lotto tickets and on the website itself. Each type of game or promotion should have a start date and an end date. If you miss that date, you won’t be able to enter into the drawing. Most websites should have the details upfront, but the vast majority of these games offer either a cash grand prize or something else like a car or paid vacation. Hey, you never know.

This article, originally published on Jan. 26, 2021, has been updated.

More from Green Matters

Latest Zero Waste News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Green Matters. Green Matters is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.