Launched on July 1, 1974, the Illinois Lottery was one of the first legal state lotteries. Although an independent department ran it for most of its history, it became the first privatized state lottery when Northstar Lottery Group took over management in 2011. Today, it is operated by a UK-based gambling company the Camelot Group.
The Illinois Lottery currently offers two multi-state and four Illinois-only draw games, more than 70 instant games and a number of fast play titles. Out of the total revenue, 25% goes toward funding infrastructure projects, public education and other priorities.
This page covers the most prominent features of the Illinois Lottery, including online aspects, the types of games you can play, other gambling options and key points from the lottery’s history.
Illinois online lottery
When the US Justice Department declared that the sale of lottery products over the internet was legal in December 2011, the Illinois Lottery became the first lottery in the US to allow such purchases online.
Today, tickets for all draw games are available on the Illinois Lottery official website. These include tickets for Powerball, Mega Millions, Lotto, Lucky Day Lotto, Pick 3 and Pick 4.
To be able to buy tickets, you must first register an account by providing all the necessary personal information. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll need to supply your lottery wallet with funds using a credit or debit card (Visa, Discover, Mastercard). The minimum deposit is $10.
After you’ve deposited enough money, choose the game you would like to buy a ticket for and click “Play.” Choose your numbers, your purchase type and the number of drawings you’d like to enter. Once you’ve done all that, confirm the purchase.
Alternatively, you can use the iOS app to play the Illinois lottery online. Simply log in to your account and follow the same steps to purchase your tickets. The lottery also has an Android app, but due to Google’s online gambling policy, you aren’t able to make purchases through the Illinois lottery app downloaded via Google Play. To be able to use all the features of the Android app, download it from the lottery’s official website.
Aside from buying single tickets, you can also purchase up to a 12-month subscription for all draw games. Online lottery ticket purchases are available only to players with an Illinois IP address.
What lottery games can I play in Illinois?
Illinois Lottery players can choose from six draw games. Two of them are multi-state games, while the other four are Illinois-exclusive. Aside from these games, the Illinois Lottery also features several fast play games, as well as over 70 scratch games priced between $1 and $30.
Illinois Lottery multi-state draw games
The lottery in Illinois offers two of the most popular multi-state draw games in the country — Powerball and Mega Millions.
With its almost three decades of history and some of the highest jackpots in North America, Powerball is rightfully one of the most notable multi-state draw games in the US. Since its beginnings in 1992, it has gone on to be an option in as many as 45 states, the US Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. However, the Illinois Lottery didn’t join until January 2010.
Powerball tickets cost $2 per play. You can purchase them from licensed retailers or directly from the official Illinois Lottery website at least 45 minutes before the draw.
To play the game, you need to choose five numbers between 1 and 69 and one number from 1 to 26, also called the Powerball number. You can also opt for the quick pick feature that chooses the numbers for you. If you want to, you can add the Power Play feature. This can multiply your non-jackpot winnings by two, three, four, five or even 10 times at a cost of $1.
You can choose the same number combination for up to 25 consecutive drawings by marking the proper field on the ticket.
Powerball players have nine ways to win. The smallest prize ranges from $4 to $40, depending on the multiplier. The overall chances of winning a prize are 1 in 24.9, which is quite low. Of course, the probability of matching all six numbers and winning the jackpot is much slimmer — 1 in 292,201,338.
Nobody in Illinois has yet won a jackpot. A from Freeport, however, did win a $50 million Powerball prize in 2013 — the largest Powerball prize ever in the state.
Illinois Powerball key points
- Ticket price: $2 plus $1 for the optional Power Play feature.
- Nine ways to win.
- Largest Powerball prize ever in Illinois: $50 million.
Illinois Mega Millions
Right up there with Powerball in terms of popularity and jackpots, Mega Millions is another multi-state draw game. It originated in 1996, with six US states, including Illinois, participating in its creation. Since then, a total of 45 jurisdictions have started offering the game, including the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands.
Mega Millions tickets are available for purchase through the Illinois Lottery website or via licensed lottery vendors for just $2 per play. Sales close 15 minutes before the drawing.
Players must choose five numbers from 1 to 70 and one number from 1 to 25, also known as the Mega Ball number. If you can’t decide on your numbers, the quick pick option will choose for you. As is the case with Powerball, you can add a multiplier to your ticket for a chance to increase your non-jackpot winnings by two, three, four or five times. Mega Millions calls this feature the Megaplier, and it costs $1.
Finally, choose whether you want to purchase a subscription or a single ticket, and pick the number of subsequent drawings (up to 25) you’d like to enter.
Mega Millions offers nine ways to win. The lowest prizes range from $4 to $10, depending on the multiplier. To win the jackpot, your numbers all need to match.
The largest single-ticket Mega Millions jackpot for an Illinois winner $393 million, and it went to a woman from Palos Heights in August 2017.
Illinois Mega Millions key points
- Ticket price: $2 plus $1 for the optional Megaplier feature
- Nine ways to win
- Largest single-ticket Mega Millions jackpot ever won in Illinois: $393 million
Illinois multi-state draw times
- Powerball — You can watch the drawings every Wednesday and Saturday at 9:59 p.m. Central Time. Don’t forget to buy the ticket before sales close at 9 p.m. on the night of the drawing.
- Mega Millions — Check whether you have the winning combination every Tuesday and Friday at 10 p.m. Central. You can buy the tickets 15 minutes before the drawings at the latest.
Illinois state draw games
Aside from Powerball and Mega Millions, the Illinois State Lottery offers four state-exclusive draw games. Here are the games and their most important features:
- Illinois Lotto — A ticket costs just $1. To participate in the drawing, you need to select six numbers from 1 to 52 or choose the quick pick option. For an additional $1 per line, you can choose the Extra Shot feature that multiplies your non-jackpot winnings. You can also enter the same ticket into up to 25 consecutive drawings. The game offers five ways to win. However, you’ll have six additional ways if you add the Extra Shot feature. The jackpots are progressive, starting at $2 million. Drawings take place each Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 9:22 p.m. Buy the tickets online or from a licensed lottery sales agent by 9:15 p.m. on the day of the draw.
- Lucky Day Lotto — To play Lucky Day Lotto, purchase a $1 ticket and pick five numbers from 1 to 45, or have the game pick for you. Select the time of the draw (midday, evening or both), and enter your ticket into up to eight subsequent drawings. You can also choose to add EZmatch for an extra $1. This adds a second set of five numbers to your ticket and could win up to $5,000 instantly. With Lucky Day Lotto, you’ll have four ways to win, plus seven more ways if you add EZmatch. Match all five numbers and win the progressive jackpot that starts at $100,000. You can watch the drawings twice a day — at 12:40 p.m. and 9:22 p.m. Ticket sales close seven minutes before each drawing.
- Pick 3/Pick 4 plus Fireball — Pick your three or four numbers from 1 to 9 and choose your strategy: box, straight, straight/box, front pair, combo or back pair. Wager between $0.50 and $5 for a chance to win up to $500/$5,000. Double your wager amount by adding the Fireball to increase your chances of winning a prize. For each ticket, you can choose the draw time you want to enter (midday, evening or both). Then you can mark up to eight consecutive drawings if you wish. Pick 3 offers nine ways to win, while Pick 4 offers 13. Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings take place every day at 12:40 p.m. and 9:22 p.m. Ticket sales close at 12:35 p.m. for the midday drawing and at 9:15 p.m. for the evening drawing.
Illinois Instant tickets
On top of the draw games we’ve discussed, the Illinois Lottery also offers more than 70 instant tickets. You can buy these from licensed lottery sales agents only, but you can check out what’s available on the Illinois Lottery website.
Illinois Lottery instant tickets are currently available at these prices: $1, $2, $3, $5, $10, $20, $25 and $30. Prizes range from $500 to $5 million.
Other gambling options in Illinois
Illinois first legalized gambling in 1990, in the form of riverboat gambling. Over time, Illinois online gambling options have expanded to include video slots, table games, betting on horse racing and daily fantasy sports. Sports betting in Illinois is also legal.
Most of these activities are legal at physical locations and online. The exceptions are slots, bingo and table games, which you cannot play online.
The Prairie State is currently home to 10 land-based casinos. The most prominent of these are Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin and Hollywood Casino and Hotel in Joliet.
Illinois Lottery history
The lottery first became legal in Illinois in July 1974, making the Land of Lincoln one of the first US states to legalize this form of gambling. Before the drawing broadcast was removed from WGN America in 2014, the Illinois Lottery was the only single-state lottery to broadcast its drawings across the nation.
In September 1996, Illinois was one of six states to participate in the creation of The Big Game, today known as Mega Millions. Another hugely popular multi-state draw game, Powerball, became available in the state in January 2010.
The Illinois Lottery had been operated by an independent body up until 2011, when its management was taken over by a private company called Northstar Lottery Group. As of 2018, the lottery has been managed by a British company called the Camelot Group.
2012 saw Illinois become the first state to allow lottery ticket sales online. This happened after the US Justice Department declared it legal at the end of the previous year. Three years later, in 2015, the Illinois Lottery started using a random number generator to determine the winning numbers.
Today, the lottery features six draw games, two of which are multi-state. Other lottery options include fast play games and instant tickets. A large portion of the lottery revenues help fund public education, infrastructure projects and other important causes. After the first specialty instant games launched in 2006, a share of their sales have gone toward fighting breast cancer, assistance for people living with AIDS, multiple sclerosis research and Illinois veterans.