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Online lottery will let you know when you've won!

ILLINOIS -- It seems like every year we tell you the same story.
ILLINOIS -- It seems like every year we tell you the same story. There's an unclaimed lottery ticket worth a lot of money which will expire in a few days. But, thanks to a new element of the state's lottery, unclaimed prizes may be a thing of the past. WCIA-3's Steve Staeger shows us how.

When someone in Paxton won $1 million by playing Powerball, the process moved a little bit differently than it usually does. Most of the time, when we see a big lottery winner, it takes awhile for the lottery to find out who won. This time around, they knew instantly.

"We sent him an email and he should be getting that soon."

Turns out, it wasn't just a man. It was a group of teachers and their situation turned out differently than this one.

Someone bought a $100,000 winning ticket at this gas station, in Champaign, in December 2012. But, apparently they didn't realize it and that prize went unclaimed. That, apparently, isn't uncommon.

"We have unclaimed prizes every day. Over $2 million in prizes a month goes unclaimed."

In 2012, the Illinois Lottery sold about $2.8 billion worth of tickets.

"We figure about one percent goes unclaimed. That would be $28 million."

Mike Lang is the lottery spokesman. The difference between what happened in Champaign and what happened in Paxton, that Paxton group bought its tickets online.

"You don't have to worry about it going unclaimed because we will send you an email telling you you've won. Then, if you happen to win a big prize, we will actually mail you the paper form; the claim form that has to be filled out."

That won't totally solve the problem of unclaimed tickets as paper tickets will likely never disappear. But for those who play online, it's a little extra insurance on your bet.

Last year, the state sold about $6.8 million in tickets online. If a ticket goes unclaimed, the prize money goes back into a fund devoted to schools.
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