Millions of dollars of Tasmanians’ unclaimed gambling winnings revealed

A LITTLE-known Treasury trust fund used to stash unclaimed gambling winnings owed to Tasmanian punters is steadily growing at millions of dollars each year.

An analysis of Treasury figures by the Sunday Tasmanian reveals the amount of unclaimed money in the fund has been growing by $2 million a year to now total $27.4 million.

It includes primarily $15.2 million in unclaimed Tattersall’s winnings and $10 million in betting exchange/TOTE Tasmania winnings and inactive accounts.

Denison independent MP Andrew Wilkie said more should be done to get the unclaimed winnings to their rightful owners.

A Treasury spokesman said there were a range of reasons for unclaimed money.

“The common causes of money being unclaimed include changes of address, forgotten funds, employment changes or lottery prizes that are not collected,” the spokesman said.

In the 12 months to December last year, Treasury received $2.25 million in unclaimed monies, including Tattslotto ($708,000), UBET ($787,000) and general unclaimed moneys ($536,000), yet payments of only $52,000 were made. Details of the unclaimed money is not listed in the Government Gazette and a fee of up to $5 can be charged for punters to view the register.

“I was not aware of the fund and it worries me that if people, like me, who are so deeply involved in gambling policy and reform in the state, are unaware of it then presumably very few people in the community are aware of the fund’s existence,” Mr Wilkie said. “I can’t imagine why the Government is not doing everything it can to publicise the existence of the fund because this money belongs to people.”

The unclaimed money in the trust account has grown from $19.5 million in June 2013 to $27.4 million in December 2016. It also includes $900,000 in unclaimed Retirement Benefit Fund superannuation.

Wagering money and prizes are deemed unclaimed if not claimed within six months.

Gambling funds of inactive players are deemed unclaimed if there has been no account activity for two years.

Unclaimed money, which involves amounts equal to or greater than $50 that remain unpaid after 12 months, is listed in a register then kept in the Special Deposits and Trust Fund within Treasury’s Public Account.

CHRIS PIPPOS, Sunday Tasmanian