In the first four months, the DC Lottery's new online site has generated $2.5 million in revenue for the District.

It’s Official: The Washington D.C. Lottery Adopts Final Rules For Online Sales, Making Its iLottery A Permanent Feature

The pandemic pushed up Washington, D.C.’s launch of its iLottery by a year. Now, Covid-19-related fears and business restrictions are lifting due to more Americans being vaccinated. Even so, a spokeswoman with the district’s Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG) told Online Poker Report on Monday that “the iLottery is here to stay.”

To that end, searches for “DC iLottery” on Monday pulled up only DCLottery.com. The description of that search result said only, “iLottery is simply the DC Lottery — online! Register for an iLottery account and you can play Powerball, Mega Millions and e-instant games.”

Workers’ return to offices may be a boon for DC iLottery

The district’s 700,000-member population is gradually returning to schools and offices. The return of in-person activities doesn’t necessarily mean gamblers will stop playing the lottery online, however.

In fact, it seems like the opposite may be true. The online lottery already has more than 6,400 registered users who’ve logged in since its launch on Dec. 18, 2020. As more people return to work in D.C. rather than working from home, they may add to that number. After all, a large part of the D.C. workforce commutes in from surrounding states. These commuters boost the state’s effective population by an extra 79% on top of the official number.

Spokeswoman Nicole G. Jordan, OLG’s director of marketing and communications, said sales to date have topped $2.5 million and:

“We have seen a steady increase in players registering and we expect it to continue. We have a robust marketing campaign in market to drive awareness.”

That means observers who thought the iLottery was simply in a testing phase that was slated to end on Apr. 14 misunderstood D.C.’s phased approach to the project. Jordan said there had never been a doubt that the online lottery would be a permanent OLG offering. District officials adopted the final rules on Mar. 21, replacing the temporary emergency rules that allowed it to get off the ground in December.

A second online product for the DC Lottery

The nation’s capitol already has some experience with online betting, having launched an online sports betting product called Gambet well before the DC Lottery went online. GambetDC generated $1.3 million in net profit for the district between its May 31 launch and Nov. 30, 2020.

Thus, when DC Lottery supplier Instant Win Gaming (IWG) sent out a press release about the games on Jan. 18, 2021, the district already had a plan for the iLottery. District officials knew IWG was already powering online lotteries in New Hampshire and Virginia. Since then, the Pennsylvania Lottery and the British Colombia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) also hired IWG.

Online games available to DC residents and visitors

After IWG’s Jan. 18 announcement, D.C. players could pick from Powerball, Mega Millions and e-instants.

Jordan said on Monday:

“E-instants play similarly to traditional paper scratch tickets sold in retail stores, but these electronic games are strictly offered online. Every three to four weeks, we add a new e-instant game to the DC iLottery platform. We also plan to add our numbers games (DC-3, DC-4 and DC-5) to the platform later this fiscal year.”

She added that the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021 will be “busy but exciting for the Lottery,” because of the iLottery’s phased-release strategy. There’ll be new game launches and “tweaks to existing games.” OLG’s goal is to meet customers’ needs, she said.

On Monday, the online lottery options included Powerball, Mega Millions and 16 e-instants. Five of the e-instants were marked as “new” games.

The lottery told DC Council that the new games coming this year include:

  • the lottery’s full portfolio of traditional draw games (the DC daily numbers games and Lucky for Life) and
  • monitor games (Keno, Race2Riches and The Lucky One)

Of the two paths to an iLottery, DC chose the easier one

By the time D.C. launched its iLottery, seven states had already authorized online lotteries. However, not all these states took the same path to get there.

Some have had to pass special laws to make an online lottery possible. D.C. is among the luckier jurisdictions in that it was able to forgo the legislative process in favor of an internal rule-making procedure. It joins Kentucky and Michigan in that regard, but they were early adopters. Of more recent online lottery states, only Rhode Island was able to skip the need for special legislation by securing an iLottery supplier using a provision from an earlier mobile sports betting bill.

With DC joining the mix, here’s what the list of US mainland jurisdictions with online lotteries looks like:

  • Georgia (draw & instant)
  • Kentucky (draw & instant)
  • Illinois (draw only)
  • Maine (draw only, by subscription)
  • Maryland (draw only, by subscription)
  • Massachusetts (draw only, by subscription)
  • Michigan (draw & instant)
  • New Hampshire (draw & instant)
  • New York (draw only, by subscription)
  • North Carolina (draw only)
  • North Dakota (draw only, by subscription)
  • Pennsylvania (draw & instant)
  • Rhode Island (instant only)
  • Virginia (draw & instant)
  • Washington D.C. (draw & instant)
- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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