AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A new rule established by the Maine Department of Heath and Human Services (DHHS) says those who collect $5,000 or more in lottery winnings in a month's time are no longer eligible for the state's food stamp program.

DHHS commissioner Mary Mayhew said the new rule comes after a study from her department found that from 2010 to 2014, 4,865 lottery tickets of $1,000 or more were cashed by 3,685 individuals who were receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or MaineCare benefits.

They said that equates to $22 million in prizes while on welfare programs.

This new rule goes along with another recent law banning people from using welfare funds to buy lottery tickets. Those who are banned from the SNAP program because of lottery winnings are eligible to re-apply in the future but must disclose their assets first.

Commissioner Mayhew said this is a common sense change that will stop people from abusing the system by taking funds away from those who really need them.

DHHS said the new rule has been approved for adoption and will go into effect in the coming weeks.

The state Lottery Commission is not offering a comment on the new rule.