Why Does My Lottery Ticket Say See Retailer?

Lottery ticket scanner - see retailer

When your lottery ticket says see retailer, it can mean a bunch of different things.

Here I explain what they are and what you can do about it.

Two Main Types Of ‘See Retailer’ Message

This is the first thing to understand – there are 2 main kinds of these messages.

Firstly there is the simpler ‘please see retailer’ message. This is different to the ‘cannot process’ message.

Both are covered in detail below.

1. ‘Please See Lottery Retailer’

When your lottery ticket says see retailer, but it does NOT mention anything about ‘cannot process’, here’s what it can mean:-

  • There is a network/system problem – so just try again later.
  • You scanned it at a ticket vending machine and you have won more than $100 (the vending machines have a lower maximum payout limit).
  • You may have won more than $600 but less than $5,000 – the retailer can handle this (more and you have to claim from the lottery office).

So what does it mean when your lottery ticket says see retailer? Most likely that you have won something.

Which is a good problem to have. 🙂

And why do the scanners just say ‘see retailer’ when you have won? Because it’s safer for you than the machine screaming “WINNER, please now steal my ticket…”. 😉

Seriously, that is the reason. Self-scan machines used to announce a winner, but there were some cases of people stealing tickets from winners identified in this way. So bear in mind if your lottery ticket says see retailer this is actually the lottery company looking out for you!

2. My Lottery Ticket Says Cannot Process See Retailer

So what does it mean when a lottery ticket says cannot process see retailer? This is a whole different kettle of fish.

It happens quite often with lottery apps. But these apps are basically doing exactly the same thing as the self-scan machines in stores anyway.

So however you are scanning the ticket it can mean:-

  • it didn’t scan correctly – make sure you ticket is nice and flat, and scan again
  • the lottery network is temporarily down or overloaded – just try again later on
  • your ticket is old and no longer valid 🙁 – nothing you can do here, other than remember to check your tickets earlier in future
  • the ticket is damaged and not scannable – if you think you’ve won, put in a claim form
  • it’s possible, though rare, for a misprint or faulty ticket – all you can do here is contact the lottery company and hope they honor any winnings it shows

Scratch Off Says Cannot Process Contact Lottery

In addition to those reasons above, scratchers also have an extra special case – the ticket roll was not activated.

What does that mean?

As a security measure, each roll of tickets is ‘activated’ before going on sale. This is something the retailer does using their lottery terminal.

It’s done to make it difficult for thieves to steal tickets. If they break in and steal rolls of tickets that have not been activated yet, the tickets cannot be claimed. And obviously the thieves don’t know the access codes/passwords to be able to activate the tickets.

Typically these ‘unactivated’ tickets will just show that ‘cannot process contact lottery’ message. But you might also see a more specific message where the lottery ticket says not active. Which is pretty clear!

So what does this mean for your ticket?

If you bought the ticket cheap from a dodgy ‘friend of a friend’ down a dark back alley (or the person who gave it to you might have!)… well, lesson learnt! 🙂

But if you bought the ticket as normal from an authorised retailer, then I’d recommend you call the lottery company first. They can sometimes sort this out on the spot by calling the retailer, and getting them to activate the roll. Then you can just claim as normal.

Alternatively just complete a claim form at the lottery office (or post in a form) and they will sort it out later.

P.S. Did you get my scratchers tips yet? It’s free and includes lots of great tips on improving your chances of winning

If you have any questions on this please just add a comment below. Also do come back and tell us what happens with your ticket – we’d all love to know if you managed to sort it out.

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35 Comments so far ↓

  • Dirk Smit

    I have three tickets which, when I scanned them, said: “see retailer”. When I took them to the retailer, they didn’t tell me anything. Were they supposed to tell me more?

  • Jspali

    I won on a scratcher what I think is 1,000 but when they scan it on the machine at the retailer it only prints a winner claim form but will not say the amount I actually won, why?

  • Tanja Cooper

    I took in several tickets to be cashed in and checked. I had 4 winning tickets I was sure of. When I scanned the tickets 3 of my tickets said winner. The 4th kept saying ‘see retailer’ so I took it up and she wouldn’t even scan them because she didn’t have money. So we went down the road to another store. I handed my tickets over and said I know 4 are winners but it said ‘see retailer’ so not sure how much. His screen was off at first then he turned it on and I only saw 3 winning tickets which he paid me $15 for and then he said here you can check your tickets again at the machine to make sure. I did it right I thought that was odd but I did it he gave me back several tickets all that I had given him except the one that said ‘see retailer’. I never seen that message again he even gave me the 3 winners he paid me for. I am sure now he ripped me off and kept my big winner. What can I do about it, am I just screwed?

  • Anna Ledbetter

    I bought a $10 scratcher and when I scanned it… it says sorry ‘call 1-800-lottery’. What does that mean?

  • Laura Miller

    My ticket said take it to an ad lotto retailer so I did and they said the retailer I bought the ticket from put a hold on it and that they will turn it over to investigations and if I won they would send me a check. What the heck I have never heard of this. Why would they put a hold on it?

    • LG

      Bit strange but could be from a roll of stolen tickets – did you buy the ticket from a retailer or were you given it by someone else? Or it could be ‘not activated’ rather than ‘put on hold’ as they said (sometimes happens if the retailer forgets to activate the roll). Or just an error.

      So did they keep the ticket? Or give it back to you? If you have the ticket I’d just put in a claim yourself.

      • Laura Miller

        It was the AZ lotto retail office and I filled out the claim there and they kept the ticket. They said if I won any money they would mail it to me. I always buy my tickets from retailers like Circle K or the machine. I’m really stumped.

      • LG

        Ah, good, that’s OK then. Just wait and see I guess 🙂

        Let us know how it turns out (good news hopefully)?

  • Robert

    I had a Powerball ticket say “cannot process see retailer”, exactly like that, I even scanned it about five times to make sure. It kept saying the same thing. Then the next day I scanned it again and it says not a winner. What’s that about.

    • Lottery Guy

      Sounds like there was a problem with the self-scan machine – they need to talk to the main lottery computers to check your ticket, so if it couldn’t connect temporarily then you’d get a ‘cannot process’ message.

  • Jess Peterson

    NJ lottery scratch off “Rejected – Invalid book Status” call hotline. What does this mean?

  • Bob Caruso

    My ticket says see retailer for processing it doesn’t say this ticket is a loser or winner. Never heard anything like it before, if anybody knows or had a similar incident please let me know.

  • Star

    Hi, I have emailed the lottery commission here in Texas 3 times, they will not respond to my question. I found some old scratch off tickets in an old purse I used to carry. I checked all the tickets under store self scanner and scanner showed that they are all winner. But the retailer said he can’t pay out because his scanner won’t let him. What can I do, thay are all big winners?

    • Lottery Guy

      First, check your spam folder to see if the lottery company have replied.

      Then, put in a claim form for the tickets. Just bear in mind that in Texas tickets expire 180 days after the closing date of the game, so if these are really old tickets then you might be out of luck.

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