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Historically, gambling options in the US have been very limited. Although that’s now changing, there are still many states where the main forms of gambling that are available are horse racing, fantasy sports, and the state lottery.
Those widely-available options have also shaped the expansion of online gambling. Just as daily fantasy sports preceded full-fledged US sports betting, states have been quicker to adopt online lottery games than online casinos.
Online lotteries fall into two basic categories. Some states merely allow players to purchase draw tickets through the internet, or via a subscription they set up online. Others also sell virtual instant “tickets,” and these often bear a closer resemblance to casino games than they do to physical scratch cards or pull tabs. Depending on the state, these can be called e-Instants, Diggi games, Instant Play, or simply referred to generically as “online instant games.”
Yes, though they aren’t available everywhere. Most state lotteries were established before the contemporary internet, so the laws that created them don’t mention online sales one way or another.
Most states that have introduced online lottery games have done so through a legislative process. Often this has merely meant adding “including sales over the internet” or similar words to the existing law. Doing it formally in that way avoids the possibility that a future administration or a disgruntled group of players could sue to challenge the legality of online games.
A few places, such as Rhode Island and Washington D.C. have skipped that step. They decided that the existing laws gave sufficient leeway for their lottery boards to add online products simply using their internal rule-making process.
At the moment, the legality of lotteries, including online lotteries, breaks down as follows:
On this page we’ll primarily focus on the full-featured online lotteries, as instant games provide a good alternative to real money online casino gaming in states where no legal option for the latter exists yet.
First, however, here’s the rundown of all states with some form of online lottery, along with what types of products are available. For those with instant games, you can click on the state to jump to a more detailed description of what’s on offer.
The states which have instant online games also have more variety, so here’s a summary of what you’ll find in each.
Georgia was the first state to introduce online instant lottery games. That’s interesting, in that it was relatively late in establishing a lottery in the first place, and is behind the curve on most other forms of gambling. The state sold its first lottery tickets in 1992, and went online 20 years later, in 2012.
It calls its instant games Diggi Games, and these are supplied by GTech. This company was acquired by IGT two years after the Georgia Online Lottery launched. Since IGT also supplies games for the Rhode Island and Kentucky lotteries, you’ll find some overlap between the games in those states.
Georgia has a decent-sized lineup of games, consisting of several dozen titles. Ticket prices range from $0.50 to $20 and top prizes from $25,000 up to a maximum of $350,000 for a game called Royal Jumbo Bucks.
In addition to the Diggi games and the big interstate draws, the Georgia Lottery lets you play Keno online, or enter one of two, smaller state-level draws, Cash Pop and Fantasy 5. Notably absent, however, is Lucky For Life, which is common in other online lottery states.
Kentucky is among those states whose lottery law was written in such a way that it was able to add online games without needing a new bill. Its Lottery Board approved the addition of online games in 2013, shortly after Georgia introduced its iLottery. However, it took three more years before Kentucky’s online lottery actually went live in 2016.
Kentucky uses IGT as its software provider, which means there’s significant overlap between its titles – which it calls Instant Play – and those found in Georgia and Rhode Island. For instance, Ruby 7s is a game you can play in all three states. Its selection is slightly smaller than Georgia’s as of this writing, but still more than 50.
Available stakes are also the same, from $0.50 per ticket up to $20. The maximum prize available as of this writing is $300,000, with several games offering that maximum. At the other extreme is one game, Pixies of the Forest, which has just a $500 top prize, but fairly good odds of hitting it.
Aside from the Instant Play games, Kentucky sells entries to Powerball, Mega Millions and Lucky For Life, its own Cash Ball 225 draw, and Keno.
Michigan was the second state to implement a full-featured online lottery. Like Kentucky, it was able to do so without passing any legislation, and its Lottery Board approved the idea around the same time. It was quicker rolling out the games, however, and got its iLottery off the ground in 2014.
Michigan went with the partnership of Instant Win Games (IWG) and NeoPollard for its instant games, for which it doesn’t have any special terminology. What it does have is a huge catalog of them, clocking in at over 100 as of this writing, double most other states. Unlike most other online lotteries, it provides a set of search tools to find the game with the price, top prize, play style and theme you’re looking for.
It also has a slightly bigger range of stakes available, from $0.10 up to $20 for most games, with top prizes ranging up to $250,000. There is one game, Hi/Lo, which allows players to wager up to $30 per play, but this is a double-or-nothing game with no larger jackpots to win. There are also five versions of Keno available to play online, three of which offer a $500,000 top prize.
In terms of draw tickets, you can buy the usual three interstate draws (Powerball, Mega Millions and Lucky For Life), or two local ones, Fantasy 5 or Lotto47.
Michigan also provides much more detailed breakdowns of its lottery revenue than most states. This allows us a useful glimpse into the growing popularity of online ticket sales, which at least in Michigan have outpaced the growth of retail channels by a large margin.
New Hampshire is among the states which had to pass a new law in order to allow its lottery to start offering online games. The law passed in 2017 and the state’s iLottery launched the following year.
Like Michigan, Virginia and Washington DC, New Hampshire chose the IWG/NeoPollard tag team to power its online games, which it calls e-Instants. It has an average sized collection of these (a bit more than 50 as of early 2021), and the lowest price points in the country. Tickets start as low as one cent. The maximum is $20, which is the standard elsewhere, but relatively few games go that high; many cap out at $2 or $5.
Top prizes are likewise lower in New Hampshire than other states. There is one game, Diamond Payout, which offers the chance to win up to $250,000, but the majority of games have top prizes in the five figures.
Online draw purchases are limited to Power Ball and MegaMillions. Lucky For Life is not available, nor does New Hampshire sell any local draw tickets online.
Pennsylvania’s online lottery followed essentially the same timeline as New Hampshire. State legislators passed a bill permitting it in 2017, and online games launched in 2018.
Scientific Games powers the Pennsylvania Lottery. It is, so far, the only state to have chosen that supplier. The PA iLottery has its own website, separate from the main lottery site, but doesn’t have any special terminology for its instant games. It has a catalog of over 100 titles, most of which you won’t find in other states because they use other suppliers.
Unlike other lotteries, Pennsylvania’s doesn’t show the range of ticket prices or top prizes from the games menu. You’ll have to load a game to see what your options are and what you can win, but $0.10 and $30 seem to be the usual maximums and minimums, and most games have top prizes in the tens of thousands.
You’ll find numerous instant game options at the Pennsylvania Online Lottery. One, Jumble Tumble Jackpots, even features a progressive jackpot mechanic.
For draws, the online options are Power Ball, MegaMillions, Cash 4 Life, and Treasure Hunt.
Rhode Island’s online lottery came as a surprise, in summer of 2020. No new law was needed, because the provisions granted to the lottery to secure a sports betting supplier in 2019 were general enough to allow it to sign a deal for online lottery services as well. This was in the plans all along, but a low priority, until the COVID-19 pandemic shut down retail gaming in the state and left few sports to bet on.
It went with IGT as the supplier, as that company also provides its sports betting platform, in partnership with William Hill. It describes the instant win games as e-Instants, like New Hampshire. However, the games themselves overlap heavily with those in Georgia and Michigan, which also use IGT.
The collection of games was small at first, with just over 20 games as of early 2021, though this is likely to increase. The game lobby shows the top prizes, which range from $10,000 up to $200,000. It does not show the range of prices, but these seem to be standard for all games, from $1 up to $20. There is also a single version of Keno available, with prices from $1 to $10 and a $100,000 top prize.
Oddly, Rhode Island doesn’t offer draw ticket sales online at the moment. This is unique among US online lotteries.
Virginia’s online lottery launch coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, but in this state’s case it was more of a coincidence. Legislators needed to pass a bill to make it possible, and this was already in the works before the virus arrived in the US. In fact, Gov. Ralph Northam signed the bill at the beginning of March 2020, just a week before casinos around the country shut down. The online lottery launched less than a year later, in January 2021.
The state calls its collection of iLottery products MyGameRoom, though it doesn’t have a special designation for the instant games. These are provided by the same IWG/NeoPollard partnership that powers Michigan and New Hampshire’s online lotteries. There is also some overlap with Pennsylvania’s collection including Jungle Tumble Jackpots, so Virginia must source some games from Scientific Games as well. As of early 2021, the catalog contained about 30 titles, but should fill out soon.
Prices for the games start from just $0.05 and range up to $20 for some games, though many cap out at less. Top prizes range from $20,000 to a maximum of $300,000 for the scratch-type games and $500,000 for Instant Keno Multiplier. Available draws are Power Ball, MegaMillions and Cash 4 Life.
The latest jurisdiction to launch an online lottery isn’t a state at all, but rather the District of Columbia. It made the decision quickly, rushing out emergency rules in December 2020 and launching its online games just a month later, in January 2021.
DC went with IWG for its games, the same as Michigan, New Hampshire and Virginia. It only had a dozen or so e-Instants at launch, but the catalog should expand quickly. Ticket prices for the instant games range from $0.05 to $20 and top prizes start at $10,000 and range up to $100,000, with Jungle Tumble being the first game to offer that maximum payout.
Draw games at launch were limited to just Power Ball or MegaMillions.
Online lotteries in the US currently offer two basic categories of game, or three if you count Keno separately. Some state lotteries offer only draw games. One (RI) offers only instant games. Several states offer all types, and one would expect that number to grow over time.
Playing draw games online is almost exactly the same as the retail experience, except that you won’t get a paper ticket to hold on to. It will be especially familiar if you’re used to buying draw tickets from a touch-screen terminal rather than filling out a paper slip. The main difference is that some states won’t sell you a single ticket this way. Some, due to the idiosynracies of their rules, will only allow you to purchase a subscription, playing the same numbers every week for a certain period of time, paid upfront.
Power Ball is America’s oldest and biggest interstate lottery, beginning in 1992. When it launched, it comprised 15 states. It’s now offered in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Its jackpot frequently runs into the hundreds of millions, and the highest in history was $1.586 billion.
Players select five different numbers from 1 through 69, plus a Power Ball number from 1 through 25. They may choose to pay one dollar more per ticket to activate the Power Play option, which will multiply non-jackpot prizes by up to a factor of 10. Draws are twice weekly, on Wednesday and Saturday nights, 11 PM ET.
All states which currently offer online draw sales of any kind include Power Ball among the options.
MegaMillions is the other major national interstate lottery. It began in 1996, four years after Power Ball, and is offered in all the same places as Power Ball, minus Puerto Rico. That is, you can play in 45 states, DC and the Virgin Islands.
Its largest jackpot in history was $1.537 billion, just shy of Power Ball’s record. On the other hand, it has had two billion-dollar jackpots over its lifetime, while Power Ball has only the one. Draws are twice weekly at 11 PM ET like Power Ball, but one day earlier, i.e. on Tuesday and Friday nights.
Mechanically, the two are almost identical. Just like Power Ball, MegaMillions players select five regular numbers and one bonus number. The only difference is that the regular balls for MegaMillions go from 1 to 70, rather than 69, which makes it slightly harder to hit the jackpot. There is also a Megaplier option, similar to Power Play, but with a 5x maximum multiplier.
Just like Power Ball, MegaMillions is available online in all states which offer online draw sales.
Lucky For Life is a more recent interstate lottery, which began in 2009 in Connecticut. It’s now available in 25 states plus DC.
Unlike Power Ball and MegaMillions, Lucky For Life doesn’t have a progressive jackpot. Rather, the top prize awards the winner a guaranteed $1000 per day for the rest of their life. The next-highest prize is $25,000 per year, also for the remainder of the winner’s life.
Just like the other big draws, players select five regular numbers and one bonus number. Since the prizes aren’t quite as large as the jackpot draws, there are fewer numbers to pick from. The range is 1 to 48 for the regular numbers and 1 to 18 for the bonus. Draws are every Monday and Thursday.
States that sell draw tickets online, and which offer Lucky For Life at retail, will tend to offer it online alongside Power Ball and MegaMillions. Online lotteries in states which don’t sell Lucky For Life may offer their own state-level equivalent instead, such as Virginia’s Cash 4 Life.
Some states offer instant online games as well as draws. These vary from state to state, and depend in large part on which company the lottery chose to power its online service. More details about the selection available are given in the state-by-state summaries above.
These instant games are known by various names like Diggi Games or e-Instants. Some bear a close resemblance to scratch tickets, just in a digital form. Others are more like slot machines. Some feature other styles of gameplay entirely, including poker-like or blackjack-like mechanics. None, however, involve any sort of skill or meaningful decision-making.
Top prizes for these games tend to be in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. The online instant games also typically offer better odds than retail scratch tickets, although usually not as good as most online slots.
Many states that have instant online games include Keno among them, or sometimes in a separate section of the website. Keno works similarly to a draw lottery, in that players select a certain number of spaces on a numbered board, and hope that they match numbers drawn at random. The more matches, the more the player wins.
Most states with Keno games treat them the same as instant games. Players pick their numbers, pay for their entry, and numbers are drawn immediately, just for them. In Rhode Island, the keno draws are shared between players and happen once every few minutes. This makes for a product somewhere in between the draw games and instant games.
Online lotteries can feature various kinds of bonuses and promotions, just like you’d find at a legal online casino. Check out our review page for a state lottery or its own website to find out what’s available. You’ll typically only find such promotions in states offering instant games; those which sell only draw tickets online tend to be more stingy.
Some lotteries will give you free tickets for signing up, or for making a first deposit. For instance, at the time of this writing, the Virginia online lottery is offering players 10 free games of Blackjack Doubler just for signing up, and another 10 free games of Queen of Diamonds for a first deposit of at least $10.
Some lotteries will give you bonus money when you make your first deposit. The Georgia online lottery typically has such a bonus, for instance. These bonuses will have a percentage attached, and a maximum. For instance, a 25% match with a $250 maximum means you’ll get $25 bonus for each $100 you deposit, up to a maximum bonus of $250 for a $1000 deposit.
The catch is that there will be a playthrough requirement. Usually this just means that you have to spend both your deposit and the bonus funds on tickets, but can withdraw any money you win from those.
Lotteries will sometimes use a promotion to push players to play a certain game or try a new product. These are generally limited time offers. For instance, at the time of this writing, Kentucky’s iLottery is giving out ten prizes of $50 apiece to players of Money Island, with each paid entry counting for one chance to win a bonus prize.
Because these promotions don’t last long, you’ll need to look for them yourself on the lottery website’s promotions page.
Most online lotteries offer an app, even those that don’t let you play games or purchase tickets online. These are generally available for both iOS and Android, with download links to be found on the lottery website.
Exactly what features these apps have depend on the lottery. Typically, they will include information about draw jackpots and winning numbers, a map to find nearby retailers, and the ability to scan your tickets to see if they are winners. Some also let you play Second Chance games with losing tickets, or to pick your numbers for draw games in advance and then just scan a QR code at the retailer to print your tickets.
States that have online lotteries will usually build these games into the app as well. The games are the same, because the developers build them using cross-platform technology. You’ll also use the same account and balance for web-based play and on the mobile app.
Note that if you’re downloading an Android app directly from the lottery website, you’ll need to go to Settings -> Lock Screen and Security and toggle on the Unknown sources slider. This may soon become unnecessary, as Google has changed its policies to allow legal gambling apps to be distributed through its Play Store.
Signing up for an online lottery is much the same as any other gambling site. It requires a little more information from you than a typical online merchant, but isn’t too cumbersome.
Visit your state’s lottery site or click on the Play Now link in one of our reviews. Find the Register or Sign Up button and you’ll be brought to a form where you’ll enter your personal information.
Make sure that everything you enter matches your official ID exactly. For instance, if your name on your driver’s license is written as “Michael,” make sure you put that in the name field and not just “Mike.” If you’ve got a bonus code to receive a welcome bonus, make sure to enter it, as most of these offers are only valid on signup.
The site will then walk you through whatever additional steps are necessary. This may require providing scanned or photographed documents to establish your identity and address.
If you want to play on your desktop browser, you will probably have to download and install a geolocation plugin to ensure that you are playing from within state lines. You might be able to skip this step if you’ve already installed one for another gambling site, such as an online casino or sportsbook. Apps have their geolocation technology built in and won’t typically require a second download.
After all that, you’ll be ready to make a purchase and start playing!
In some states, there’s another way to play the lottery online, without going directly through the lottery itself.
Reselling lottery tickets isn’t generally legal, but a few states have authorized specific companies to do so. At the moment, the most prominent and widely-available of these is called Jackpocket.
Jackpocket sells draw tickets only, and doesn’t physically deliver them unless you win a big prize. The way it works is that you deposit money the way you would for any other online gambling site. You then pick the draws you want to enter and the numbers you’d like to play. You can also ask for some random numbers, or set up a subscription to play the same numbers every week until you cancel.
The company will then send someone to a partner retailer and buy the physical ticket on your behalf. Rather than send you the ticket, however, they’ll email you a scan and keep the actual ticket at their offices for safekeeping. If you win a small prize (up to $600), they’ll also redeem the ticket and add the funds directly to your account. If you win a larger prize, the ticket will be delivered directly to you by courier so you can redeem it yourself.
For more detailed information about how this service works and where it’s available, see our Jackpocket review page.
There are usually plenty of options available for getting your money onto and off of an online lottery site. For the most part, these resemble those available for other types of gambling sites, like mobile sportsbooks and online casinos.
The options you’ll find will depend on the state, but might include:
There are some wrinkles to online lotteries compared to casinos, however. For one thing, many states forbid players from paying for tickets with a credit card, as a responsible gambling measure. Where that prohibition exists, it will usually apply to online play as well.
Another issue relates to big prizes, particularly from draw tickets. Lottery regulations often stipulate that prizes over a certain amount (say $100,000 and up) have to be collected in person at the lottery office. This will often apply online too.
Thus, if you buy a Power Ball ticket online and win the jackpot, you won’t be getting an eight- or nine-figure sum added directly to your account balance. Rather, you’ll receive instructions for claiming your winnings the same way you would if you’d hit the jackpot on a paper ticket.
The history of lotteries in the US is shorter than a lot of countries, at least in their modern, government-run form. For a long time, the country has heavily prohibitionist when it came to gambling and other “vices.” Some parts still are.
As a result, many state lotteries didn’t even exist until quite recently. Online lotteries first started appearing in 2012 and were rare at first, but are now gathering steam. Here’s how things have played out over the years.
Didn’t find what you were looking for above? Here are some quick answers to some of the most common questions related to online lotteries in the US.
A total of 14 US lotteries have some form of online sales. Seven sell only draw tickets (some of these by subscription only), one has only instant games, and six have both.
Every US lottery with an online component sells tickets for these interstate draws, save Rhode Island.
The 13 places where you can buy Power Ball and MegaMillions tickets directly or by subscription through the lottery website are: DC, GA, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, ND, NH, NY, PA, and VA.
You can also buy tickets through an authorized third party online retailer in: AR, CO, MN, NJ, OH, OR, TX.
Only seven lotteries offer instant online play at the moment. These are: DC, GA, MI, NH, PA, RI and VA.
The age restrictions for online play are generally the same as for purchasing retail tickets. In all states currently offering online lottery tickets, this means 18 years of age.
No. Visitors to an online lottery state (or DC) can play as well. However, resident or not, you must be physically located within the state to buy tickets or play instant games. Apps and website determine this via geolocation technology.
Virginia was the first state to pass an online lottery bill, in 2009. However, Georgia became the first state to launch a full-featured online lottery including instant games, in 2012.
Approximately one in 292 million. If you’re into sports betting, one way of thinking about this is that you’ve got a better shot betting on the lowest-ranked NFL team to win the Super Bowl for the next four years in a row.
Approximately one in 303 million. This is slightly worse than Power Ball, but they’re both extremely unlikely. An analogy here is to imagine a honeybee crawling on the 18th green of a full-sized golf course. Now, imagine dropping a dart from an airplane such that it lands somewhere within the golf course. Your odds of spearing the bee are about the same as winning the MegaMillions jackpot.
Your odds of winning $1000 per day for life are approximately one in 31 million. The runner-up prize of $25,000 per year for life is more likely, at one in 1.8 million.
Three. The largest was $1.59 billion, split between three Power Ball winners in 2016. The next two were MegaMillions jackpots, each won by a single ticket, for $1.54 billion in 2018, and $1.05 billion in 2021.
The jackpots listed for an interstate lottery assume that the player will accept an annuity. In this case, that full amount is paid out in 30 installments at annual intervals, each larger than the last.
Players can instead request a one-time lump sum payment. In this case, however, the cash value of the jackpot is calculated based on expected inflation over the next 29 years. This usually works out to roughly 60% of the advertised jackpot.
Yes, all gambling winnings in the US are subject to income tax.
Money spent on lotteries gets split four ways. Some gets paid out in prize money. Most of the rest goes to the state government, or directly funds certain programs (such as education, depending on the state). Smaller amounts go to retailers in the form of commissions, and to paying the lottery’s own operating expenses.
For Power Ball, as an example, the breakdown is as follows:
Naturally, when tickets are sold online through the lottery’s own site, there is no retailer commission. More of the money from such sales therefore goes to the government and/or the lottery’s expenses.
That depends. Many states don’t allow online sales at all. However, there are a few which lack an iLottery of their own, but have authorized one or more third party retailers to sell draw tickets on their behalf. At the moment, the main company doing this is called Jackpocket.
Jackpocket is authorized to conduct its business in the following states (asterisks indicate states which lack an online lottery): AR*, CO*, DC, MN*, NH, NJ*, NY, OH*, OR*, TX*.