Life changes a lot after being convicted of a felony. In many states, felons may lose the right to vote or the right to possess a firearm.
Also, finding decent accommodation or a well-paying job becomes difficult as background checks that reveal felony records are involved in the process.
In such a situation, it’s a valid question if a felony conviction will impact the chances of winning a lottery or will it prevent a felon from just playing it.
Can felons play the lottery?
Legally, most states don’t prohibit a felon from playing a lottery just because they are convicted of a felony. So, yes a convicted felon can play the lottery.
However, if the person is incarcerated, then most states don’t allow them to play Powerball or State-approved lottery as gambling is prohibited for people in prison.
You might think if it is possible to ask a friend or relative to buy the lottery on behalf of the felon and collect the prize money in case they win, but that too is considered as gambling in many states and it is not allowed.
For instance, according to this media report, in 2014, a sex offender in Florida who had been arrested 12 times won the lottery and was able to receive $3 Million in winnings.
Can felons collect lottery winnings?
Yes. Felons can win a lottery if luck shines upon them and can even collect the prize money as long as they are not in prison. However, there are many aspects to consider before they collect their lottery winnings.
Lottery winners get a lot of media attention and in most cases it is unnecessary. Being a felon, media attention can result in public and government scrutiny. The government would want to know how a felon is spending such a large amount of money.
Crime records will become news headlines and there are chances that people will recognize a felon easily at public places and may react negatively.
Every action will be observed especially by those who are against felons pocketing lottery winnings. Minor mistakes can get highlighted easily and can even result in a prison term.
If the offense has resulted in financial damages or if the felon owes money to the victims, then winning a huge amount will make them liable to pay. Victims can claim financial damages if the statute of limitations has not expired.
There have been instances in the past where people who have a criminal record have won a large sum of money in the lottery
How can you avoid unnecessary attention?
Many states allow lottery winners to stay anonymous while collecting their winnings. In states where that’s not an option, felons can avail the services of a lawyer to create a trust and collect the money on their behalf.
Is it advisable for a felon to play the lottery?
The odds of winning a lottery are very low and it’s not advisable for anyone to play the lottery but people still like to try their luck with lotteries.
A felon can make better use of the money to upskill themselves or learn a new trade using that money. They can also save that money for higher studies or for paying their rent.
Although there is no harm in trying one’s luck once in a while, lottery can cause addiction like any other form of gambling, and soon a person might end up spending a lot of money buying lottery tickets. Debts can pile up quickly and finances can get messed up. Being a felon, life is already difficult, adding financial troubles to add to that wouldn’t be sensible.