Every year millions of pounds in lottery winnings go unclaimed. Much of this is due to players who fail to check their numbers and claim their prizes within the allotted time frame. It's easily done, particularly if you buy a ticket while abroad or happen to be out of the country when the results are announced.
However, this doesn't need to be the case. Inspired by updates in mobile technology, a number of software specialists have created handy 'buy and scan' apps.
These programmes are capable of scanning many types of lottery tickets, storing the numbers and then notifying you when you're entitled to a win – saving you the effort of checking and ensuring you still have plenty of time to claim.
Initially, you'll need to visit your local retailer to buy a lottery ticket in person. You must have a physical lottery ticket otherwise you will not be able to scan any numbers. After buying your ticket, go to Google Play if you have an Android device, or the App Store or iTunes if you're on Apple iOS. Then, perform a search by entering “lottery ticket scanner” or similar.
You can choose between lottery scanning apps by looking at user ratings as well as the compatible lottery draws listed in an app’s description. Next, download the app to your device, open it and go to the 'scan' option. Place your ticket on a flat surface and hold the camera over it. The app will then complete the process and present you with results.
If the draw has yet to happen, you will get a notification after the numbers are announced, telling you whether you have won a prize and if so, an estimate of how much you are entitled to.
There are several buy and scan apps on the market and each will differ in terms of how the scanning process functions. Lotto Scanner, for example, is an app that Australian players can use to scan the barcode on their ticket. The app requires users to tap a button and hold their device steady while it performs the scan.
Lotto Monkey, on the other hand, is designed to scan Powerball and Mega Millions and Mega Millions tickets. It is similar to Lotto Scanner in that a scanning process checks lottery numbers against the latest results. However, Lotto Monkey is designed differently to its Australian equivalent in that it physically scans the printed numbers on your ticket, rather than the barcode.
A helpful percentage bar is displayed on the app to show progress. Powerball and Mega Millions players can also use YooLotto to check tickets for America's biggest lottery games. The main difference with YooLotto is that the app scans your numbers using a snapshot of the ticket.
A clear image will enable the app to verify your numbers against the current draw. The snapshot functionality also saves you from having to maintain a steady hand for several seconds while scanning.
The two biggest lotteries in the US – Powerball and Mega Millions – are lottery betting types that are compatible with Lotto Monkey and YooLotto.
Lotto Monkey is mostly focused on the transnational lotteries, but YooLotto provides an added advantage to Texas residents, who are able to check six different state draws too. YooLotto has promised that more state lotteries will be added in the future, starting with the New York Lotto.
There are many more scanning apps for lottery draws hosted throughout the world, but Android appears to have the wider selection. Apple users can find a few iOS apps via iTunes, though these are mostly for the US. Perhaps this is not surprising given that Android is said to have an 82.8% global market share of smartphone operating systems in 2015.
A quick search for “lottery scanner” on Google Play brings up scanner apps for EuroMillions and the UK National Lottery. UK Lottery Ticket Checker, for instance, will enable you to scan tickets for Euromillions, Lotto, Thunderball, and Lotto Hotpicks. App developer BE Soft Ltd has even promised to integrate scanning functionality for draws hosted in Germany and Poland.
There are also scanning apps for different languages. Escaner de Loterías and Lotería Escaner Sorteos are designed for Spanish residents who want to check their lottery numbers, while EM Scanner FR allows French-speakers to check their Euromillions ticket.