Saturday 30 September 2023

Millions Left Unclaimed in Costa Rica’s Christmas Lottery

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30 September 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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Participating in the chaos of the Gordo Navideño, which is loosely translated as the Christmas lottery of a fat cat, is a treasured holiday tradition in Costa Rica. Due to the fact that each lotto bill contains 40 tickets, the jackpot reward for the Costa Rican lottery over this holiday season awarded a cool 10.5 million to the holder of a full lottery bill.

At the current exchange rate, each of these tickets is worth around $6,500, and within a few days following the lottery drawing, roughly 50% of the lucky ticket holders had already paid them in. A large payout at a casino is always an event, just recently, a player won a 1.97 million progressive jackpot at DraftKings Casino NJ, and this made a lot of headlines. But it doesn’t seem like Costa Ricans are in a rush to receive their prizes.

The Christmas Lottery in Costa Rica

Although there are other lottery prizes over the Christmas season, the 10.5 million Gordo is the one that garners the most attention. The remaining prizes, worth hundreds of millions of colones, do not get as much interest and are therefore more likely to go unclaimed. The truth is that a lot of citizens who buy lottery tickets don’t care to see if they won a smaller reward, which leaves a lot of money left on the table.

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The Junta de Protección Social (JPS), a government organization focused on the welfare, community outreach, and philanthropic protection of those who are frequently disregarded by society at large, namely, the poor, crippled, ill, and imprisoned, runs Costa Rica’s national lottery. The JPS enjoys the fact that millions of dollars in lottery winnings go unclaimed; recently, unclaimed money has been utilized to assist female prisoners, the public geriatric hospital in San Jose, drug treatment facilities, the elderly in Poas, and cancer patients in Puntarenas.

Unclaimed Prizes Over the Christmas Lottery

More than 2 million in lottery wins are never claimed in Costa Rica each year, and many of them correspond to smaller awards from the Christmas lottery, according to accounting data revealed in 2006 by the national daily La Nacion. Holiday lottery tickets are typically immediately sold out in the nation. Because of how popular these lotto drawings are, additional events are organized in the weeks that follow. In addition, the gambling industry in the nation is rather small in comparison, which gives traditional and online operators a lot of opportunities for growth in a young market.

The majority of the citizens keep their eyes on the Gordo, and if they don’t win the big one, they swiftly throw away their tickets. Each fractional ticket has a potential payout range of 6 to 1,000 and beyond, but many players frequently overlook the fact that they even bought a ticket in the first place. “It’s fine, there’s always tomorrow” is a common reaction when the JPS polls players to inform them that they could have lost the opportunity to redeem prize money (often after around three months).


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Carter Maddox
Carter is self-described as thirty-three-and-a-half years old and his thirty-three-and-a-half years birthday is always on March 3. Carter characteristically avoids pronouns, referring to himself in the third person (e.g. "Carter has a question" rather than, "I have a question"). One day [in 1984], Carter, raised himself up and from that day forward we could all read what Carter writes.

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