SEOUL, Sept. 14 (Yonhap) -- Unclaimed lottery prizes have topped 260 billion won over the past five years in South Korea, government data showed Saturday.
According to the finance ministry, 261 billion won (US$218 million) in prize money offered by Lotto, the most popular offline lottery ticket, has not been claimed by winners in the 2014-2018 period.
The ministry said the right to claim Lotto prizes expires after one year and the unclaimed winnings are carried over to a state social welfare fund.
Sales of Lotto tickets here reached an all-time high in 2018 though their growth slowed amid an absence of new sales outlets.
Total Lotto sales are estimated at 3.97 trillion won for last year, up 4.4 percent from the previous year -- a slowdown from a 6.5 percent gain in 2017 and a 9.5 percent increase in 2016.
The previous record was set in 2003, when sales reached 3.82 trillion won. That year, a buying frenzy gripped the nation after a winner received a record prize of 40.7 billion won that included money carried over from previous draws.