I’m Worried My Ticket Is Ruined. Can It Still Be Cashed?

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A player just emailed us with a question that comes up from time to time about tickets that have been damaged. Specifically, can a ticket still be checked or cashed even if the code on it is damaged? Many times, yes. But there are limits.

The player said he scratched one of his tickets too hard and damaged the code on it that normally would be scanned to check the results. He wondered if he could still claim the prize he thought he’d won.

Often there is a way for that to happen.

Each lottery ticket has identifying numbers on it that can manually be entered into a lottery terminal to check the results of the ticket. It’s not something you as a player can do using a self-checker in a store or the lottery’s mobile app on your smartphone – the ticket code is required in those instances.

But if the code can’t be read and the rest of the ticket is still in good condition, the clerk at a lottery retail location or a staffer at one of our lottery offices can manually key in the identifying numbers from the ticket to check its results. If the clerk at your local store doesn’t know how to do that, they can always call the Iowa Lottery’s retail hotline for help.

But if a ticket is too badly damaged, not even we’ll be able to determine its results. Through the years, we’ve seen tickets that had disintegrated after mistakenly being sent through the wash-and-dry cycle a few times. Other tickets had been torn, and the player involved had only a small section without any identifying numbers on it.

There also was a player who spilled water on her lotto tickets and put them in the microwave to dry them out. Lotto tickets are printed on heat-sensitive paper, so microwaving them turned them completely black. There was no way to determine the information that had been printed on them.

We’ll always do our best to help, but as with any paper product, lottery tickets can be damaged. It’s important to keep your tickets in as good of shape as possible so you can claim any prize you’ve won!