California Government Code Section 8880; State Lottery Laws

California State Law Legal Age to Participate in Lottery

State lottery laws govern how the lottery is operated and accounted for, how revenue is distributed, time limits for claiming prizes, and prohibited activities. The main purpose of state lotteries is to boost state revenue, often for a particular need, without raising taxes. For instance, California state lottery laws specifically say that the lottery is purposely for funding public education.

California law prohibits lottery ticket sales to minors. Only adults who are at least 18 years old can purchase a lottery ticket, including scratch-off tickets.

Individuals tampering with lottery tickets can face severe consequences in California. Lottery ticket fraud can be punished under several California laws. In the case of a ticket or prize that is valued at more than $950, the offense is charged as grand theft. If charged as a felony, the offense can be punished by 16 months to 3 years in prison.

 Forgery can also be involved in lottery ticket fraud. Under California law, forgery includes more than the fraudulent use of a signature. Forgery is also charged when a person creates, changes, or presents as genuine a false document related to money, finances, or property with the intent to commit fraud. This includes counterfeit lottery tickets. Felony forgery in the golden state can be punished with up to 3 years in prison.

The California Public Records Act states that the name of the lottery winner and the location and the name of the retailer who sold the ticket are considered public records and disclosed to the public. The Lottery Commission does not disclose any personal information, including the winner’s address, employer, or phone number.

All winning lottery ticket claims must be made within 180 days of the draw or the end of the game. The only exception to this is the Mega Millions lottery, a multi-state lottery effort, for which claims must be made within a year. Barring that particular lottery, any lottery winnings that are not claimed within 180 days are added back into the portion of revenues that go to public schools.

Under California law, no more than 13% of revenue can be used for lottery expenses, including security and investigation. At least half of the revenue is earmarked for prizes. The remaining revenue is used to benefit public education. This money is held in the State Lottery Fund and gets transferred to the California State Lottery Education Fund quarterly.


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