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Lottery Bond

Category — Bond Types
By Konstantin Vasilev Member of the Board of Directors of Cbonds, Ph.D. in Economics
Updated October 11, 2023

What Is a Lottery Bond?

A lottery bond, also known as a lotto bond or lottery machine bond, is a specific form of commercial surety bond designed to guarantee that individuals or businesses selling lottery tickets are adhering to specific regulations. These bonds play a crucial role in ensuring the integrity of lottery operations.

Lottery bonds serve as a safeguard against potential issues such as tax evasion, mismanagement of funds, or manipulation of lottery games and equipment. Essentially, they provide a layer of financial security for the government agency overseeing the lottery and the players themselves.

Most states with lottery programs mandate that lottery sellers obtain these bonds as part of their licensing requirements. Typically, these bonds must be in place at the time of license renewal for lottery sellers. This ensures that all parties involved in sales, including lottery ticket sellers and operators of lottery equipment, adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the government agency responsible for overseeing the lottery.

How Lottery Bonds Work

  1. Purchase of the Bond. When an individual or organization involved in lottery sales obtains a lottery bond, they essentially purchase a form of financial assurance. A surety company issues this bond and serves as a guarantee that the bond purchaser will fulfill their obligations by relevant laws and regulations.

  2. Performance and Compliance. The bond purchaser, whether it’s a lottery ticket seller, operator of lottery equipment, or another involved party, must adhere to all applicable laws and regulations governing lottery operations. This includes ensuring the proper handling of funds, payment of taxes, and the fair operation of lottery games and machinery.

  3. Claim Process. If the bond purchaser fails to meet their obligations and breaches the bond terms, the relevant party can file a claim, often the state government agency overseeing the lottery. This claim could arise from misappropriating lottery funds, tax evasion, or tampering with lottery equipment.

  4. Surety Company’s Role. The surety company, which issued lottery bonds, steps in when a valid claim is filed. They will investigate the claim to ensure its validity. If the claim is legitimate and by the terms of the bond, the surety company will make a financial payment to the state. This payment can be up to the full face value of the bond.

  5. Repayment Responsibility. Once the surety company pays the state, the bond purchaser becomes responsible for repaying the surety company. This repayment is typically the amount the surety company pays to satisfy the claim, including any associated fees or penalties.


Parties Involved in Lottery Bonds Agreements

In lottery bond agreements, there are three parties involved:

  1. The Obligee. The obligee represents the government agency responsible for overseeing the lottery. This agency is the entity that requires individuals or businesses involved in lottery sales to obtain a bond. Their primary objective is to safeguard the interests of the state and the public, ensuring that lottery operations follow the law.

  2. The Principal. The principal refers to the individual or business that seeks to become bonded. They do so to guarantee their ability to perform their obligations and adhere to the terms and regulations associated with lottery sales. The principal’s role is critical in upholding the standards of the lottery industry.

  3. The Surety. The surety is an insurance company that underwrites the lottery bond. By issuing the bond, the surety vouches for the principal’s financial strength and commitment to fulfilling their obligations. If the principal fails to meet these obligations and a valid claim is filed, the surety provides financial compensation to the obligee, which is often the state government agency.


Cost of Lottery Bonds

Several factors influence the lottery bond cost and can vary based on individual or business circumstances, state requirements, and credit profiles. Understanding how these factors impact the pricing of lottery bonds is essential for those seeking to obtain them.

Here’s how the cost of lottery bonds is determined:

  1. Credit Profile. The bond purchaser’s credit profile, whether an individual or a business, significantly determines the cost of lotto bonds. Those with good credit histories are more likely to receive lower rates. Conversely, individuals or businesses with low credit scores may face higher bond costs due to increased risk.

  2. Financial Strength. The financial stability and track record of the business seeking the bond also influence the pricing. Companies with a solid financial history and a proven record of responsible financial management are typically viewed as lower risk by surety companies, leading to lower bond costs.

  3. Total Bond Amount. The bond amount required by the state authorities is a crucial factor. State regulations set this amount, which varies from one state to another. The bond amount represents the maximum coverage the bond provides in case of a valid claim.

The cost of lottery bonds is typically calculated as a percentage of the total bond amount. This percentage serves as a premium, akin to paying for an insurance policy. The specific rates can vary but generally fall within a certain range:

  • Excellent Credit. Customers with good credit scores and solid business standings may qualify for rates as low as 1 percent of the total bond amount. This reflects a lower cost compared to other applicants.

  • Standard Market Rates. Standard market rates usually range between one and four percent of the total bond amount. For example, on a $20,000 bond, the purchaser might pay $200 to $800 to obtain the lottery bond, depending on the specific rate applied.

Example of Lottery Bonds

Lottery machine bonds have been a common financial instrument in various countries, including the United Kingdom. However, they are not exclusive to the UK and have also been issued in other nations. One notable example is Sweden, where the National Debt Office introduced lottery bonds as a strategic financial move aimed at reducing the central government’s debt burden. These bonds also attracted the interest of wealthy investors due to their tax benefits, making them a form of tax arbitrage.

In Sweden, the lottery bond program featured the following characteristics:

  • Drawings occurred periodically, typically two to three times per year.

  • Prize amounts had a variable structure with a fixed or floating base, and one notable advantage was that the winnings were tax-free.

  • Lottery bonds were available with face values ranging from SEK 500 to SEK 1,000.

  • The maturity period for these bonds varied, offering terms anywhere between one to five years.

The inception of Sweden’s government lottery bonds dates back to 1918, and they remained an intriguing financial instrument for decades. However, in 2016, the government decided to put a halt to the issuance of these bonds, signaling the end of the program. The final lottery bonds in circulation matured in 2021, marking the closure of this unique financial initiative.


  • Who needs lottery bonds?

  • What’s the purpose of lottery bonds?

  • Who can buy lottery bonds?

  • What is a lottery surety bond?

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