US Online Lottery

America is a curious patchwork of state and multi-state lottery gambling rules and regulations. Every state has jurisdiction over lottery gambling laws as prescribed in its constitution. You might think that a state lottery is a given – but you’d be wrong! In fact, it is currently prohibited in 5 states: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. Even when available, most lottery purchases are limited to brick-and-mortar retail establishments, like your local 7-Eleven, grocer, or pharmacy.

It was estimated that US lottery sales reached $89.65 billion in 2020, making them a sorely-needed source of revenue for cash-strapped states. Gambling wins of $5,000+ are subject to a 24% federal withholding tax, while each state sets its own tax rate. Online sales only represent a small portion of overall ticket sales since states have yet to embrace it. This seems a lost opportunity, given the growth in online competitors offering alternatives like fantasy sports contests, casino games, and sports betting.

US Multi-State Lotteries

Since lotteries are not legal in every state, there is no truly national lottery. However, there are multijurisdictional lotteries that act as de facto national lotteries. These are coordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), a non-profit organization owned and operated by 34 member state lotteries.

Lottery players from MUSL member states can legally participate in lottery draws, including 2 of the most popular: Mega Millions and Powerball. The volume of pooled ticket sales from participating states has propelled jackpots like these to dizzying levels. These jackpots tend to make news headlines, dominating the list of top 50 prizes in the US.

Powerball

The first Powerball draw took place in April 1992, replacing Lotto America. Today it touts itself as ‘America’s game’ because it’s now available in 45 states (plus Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia). Each base game will cost you $2, and it is simple to play.

Powerball is a draw game, expanded to 3 nights a week in August 2021: Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. At the same time, it introduced an add-on called Double PlayTM. It’s a second chance, allowing players from qualifying states to win up to $10 million in a separate draw.

The odds of winning a Powerball jackpot is approximately 292.2 million to 1, but that hasn’t discouraged American participation tempted by massive jackpots.

Mega Millions

Mega Millions was introduced in August 1996 but only adopted the name in 2002. Previously, it was known as the ‘Big Game.’ From six participating states, Mega Millions is now available in 45 states (plus the US Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia).

Like Powerball, a base game of Mega Millions will cost you $2, and play is not much different than other draw games, including Powerball. In participating states, it comes with a unique option called the MegaplierTM, which costs $1. Here a multiplier that’s drawn is applied to a non-jackpot win.

A second option depending on the state is called ‘Just the Jackpot.’ It gives players two cracks at the jackpot for $3. The catch is that the feature is not eligible for other prize levels. Catch the prize draws twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

State Lotteries

While lacking the sexiness of multi-state lotteries, single-state lottery games play a critical role in the product mix of every state lottery. The cost of playing, prizes, odds, themes, and more can vary wildly by game. These differences are why some players choose them over the bigger multi-state ones.

Ultimately, the lottery game composition is defined by the limits set within every state’s constitution. However, authorized games may include lottery draws, instant tickets (scratchers/scratch cards), and keno.

Online casinos, like the ones recommended by us, offer scratch cards and keno. These can typically be found in the specialty games section of the casino. They add variety to the standard slots, table games, and live dealer games. Online casino scratch cards and keno can be an excellent workaround in states with no lottery or online options.

US Lottery Providers in every State

Whether you reside in a state or just passing through, why not pop into a retail lottery location or online (where possible)? We’ve got links to each state lottery provider next.

American State State Lottery American State State Lottery
1 Alabama n/a 26 Montana Montana Lottery
2 Alaska n/a 27 Nebraska Nebraska Lottery
3 Arizona Arizona Lottery 28 Nevada n/a
4 Arkansas Arkansas Scholarship Lottery 29 New Hampshire New Hampshire Lottery
5 California California Lottery 30 New Jersey New Jersey Lottery
6 Colorado Colorado Lottery 31 New Mexico New Mexico Lottery
7 Connecticut CT Lottery 32 New York New York Lottery
8 Delaware Delaware Lottery 33 North Carolina North Carolina Education Lottery
9 Florida Florida Lottery 34 North Dakota North Dakota Lottery
10 Georgia Georgia Lottery 35 Ohio Ohio Lottery
11 Hawaii n/a 36 Oklahoma Oklahoma Lottery
12 Idaho Idaho Lottery 37 Oregon Oregon Lottery
13 Illinois Illinois Lottery 38 Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Lottery
14 Indiana Hoosier Lottery 39 Rhode Island Rhode Island Lottery
15 Iowa Iowa Lottery 40 South Carolina South Carolina Education Lottery
16 Kansas Kansas Lottery 41 South Dakota South Dakota Lottery
17 Kentucky Kentucky Lottery 42 Tennessee Tennessee Lottery
18 Louisiana Louisiana Lottery 43 Texas Texas Lottery
19 Maine Maine Lottery 44 Utah n/a
20 Maryland Maryland Lottery 45 Vermont Vermont Lottery
21 Massachusetts Massachusetts Lottery 46 Virginia Virginia Lottery
22 Michigan Michigan Lottery 47 Washington Washington’s Lottery
23 Minnesota Minnesota Lottery 48 West Virginia West Virginia Lottery
24 Mississippi Mississippi Lottery 49 Wisconsin Wisconsin Lottery
25 Missouri Missouri Lottery 50 Wyoming WyoLotto

How to buy a US Lottery Ticket Online

Buying lottery tickets online remains out of reach for Americans in all but a handful of states. Hence, the distribution of lottery games is still mostly left to brick-and-mortar retailers. Still, all jurisdictions with a state lottery maintain an online presence, primarily used for marketing, providing lottery results, or general info.

That said, there are a few exceptions where lottery tickets can be purchased online at state lottery operators: Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Michigan, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Even then, not all lottery games available at your local lottery retailer may be purchased online. Fortunately, this is not an issue for multi-state games like Powerball and Mega Millions.

To purchase lottery tickets online in an eligible state, you’ll first need to register a player account and may need to carry a minimum balance, such as $10. Some lotteries may require you to add funds to an e-wallet linked to your lottery account. Where this is the case, your e-wallet can usually be topped up using a credit or debit card. Some online lottery operators accept more funding options like ACH direct transfers, WebCash or PayNearMe.

Most online state lotteries will offer a downloadable lottery Android or iOS mobile app for tablets or smartphones. However, you must be within state lines to purchase a ticket. Operators use geolocation to establish that you’re within state lines. Some states go a step further and require a player to be a state resident, so you won’t be able to buy lottery tickets online if you’re just visiting.

Before getting started, we recommend finding out if your online lottery provider offers any promotions.

How to Play the Lottery Online

Playing a lottery online is relatively easy when you get the hang of it. Let’s say you wanted to play Mega Millions or Powerball. The process of filling out a form online or from your mobile is very similar to retail locations.

  1. Select the number of tickets you want to buy and the number of draws you wish to participate in.
  2. Choose your 5 numbers (1-69) and a Powerball number (1-26), or choose your 5 numbers (1-70) and a Mega Ball number (1-25). Both lotteries offer a Quik Pik option that uses a random number generator to select numbers for you.
  3. Decide whether you want the optional Power Play (Powerball) or Megaplier (Mega Millions).
  4. Review your form and select ‘Buy Now’ when done. Assuming a sufficient balance, you will then be entered into the next available draw.

 

Powerball and Mega Millions Trivia

If first impressions are everything, Mega Millions’ was a doozy! On the very first draw in May 2002, an Illinois player came away with $28 million. Since then, Mega Millions has boasted 200+ jackpots, 20+ of which have paid out $300+ million. The single largest jackpot prize for a Mega Millions draw was $1.537 billion, won in October 2018. The lucky ticket was purchased in South Carolina after a 3-month drought of jackpot winners.

You might be thinking that nothing could top the Mega Millions win, but you’d be wrong. In fact, Powerball holds the distinction of awarding the world record jackpot prize of $1.586 billion when it was won in January 2016. The prize was shared by lucky players from Tennessee, Florida, and California. In January 2021, Mega Millions produced its second $1 billion+ prize, going to a lucky player in Michigan, proving $1+ billion jackpot payouts are no fluke.

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