We break down down some of the frequently asked questions about the US lottery, including which states have it and which states offer an online lottery. Additionally, find out what the popular Mega Millions and Powerball games are all about. And, most importantly, what should you do if you win the lottery.
There are 44 states that offer a form of lottery games. Each state lottery varies only in the type of game offered with most rules being similar across the board.
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Each state lottery is operated by a dedicated agency or a branch of state government. Some include a lottery commission, gaming control board or lottery agency dedicated to overseeing that rules and regulations are operating smoothly.
Which states have a lottery?
Only six states in the US do not have some form of a lottery.
States that do not have a lottery include:
In 2011, the US Department of Justice released a legal opinion on the Federal Wire Act which only applied to sports betting. This opened the door for states to allow online lottery sales.
So far, only seven states have an online lottery.
- New Hampshire
Last year, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey and Massachusetts all proposed legislation to introduce a form of online lottery. However, none of the bills were able to get passed. It’s speculated that lawmakers plan to introduce a similar bill during each state’s 2019 legislative session.
Mega Millions is one of the biggest multistate lottery games played in the US, including Washington, D.C., and the US Virgin Islands. It is operated by the Multi-State Lottery Association.
For the cost of $2, customers pick five numbers from a set of 70 and one Mega Ball from a set of 25.
The odds of winning the Mega Millions are an astonishing 1 in 302.6 million, depending on the jackpot size. However, if there is no winner during the Tuesday and Friday drawings, the prize money rolls over. This means the jackpot can continue to grow, even surpassing the billion dollar mark.
In October 2018, Mega Millions broke records as the jackpot ascended with no winner. The outrageous odds kept climbing by the day, and by Oct. 23 the prize had reached $1.5 billion. Oct. 23 not only represented the largest Mega Millions drawing in American history but the overall largest lottery drawing in American history. A winning ticket was sold in South Carolina, but no one has come forth to claim the prize money.
For an additional $1, customers can purchase a Megaplier. In simple terms, this allows prize money won, excluding the jackpot, to multiply.
The second multistate lottery game is Powerball. The odds of winning the Powerball are still high at 1 in 292 million. However, due to changes in the law, the game now awards the biggest lottery jackpots in the world.
Much like the Mega Millions, the game is simple. Customers purchase a $4 ticket and select five numbers ranging from one to 69 and a Powerball from one to 26.
Additionally, customers can purchase a “Power Play” option which multiplies the winnings, excluding the jackpot.
Where do funds go?
All revenue collected from all 44 state lottery games go to education or a state general fund.
What to do if you win
Step one: Celebrate.
All lottery winners across the country, including Mega Millions and Powerball winners, have between 180 to 365 days to collect their prize. New Mexico however, only give winners 90 days to collect prize money.
For a rather large payout, it’s strongly advised to consult tax experts.
Mega Million ticket winners that win more than $5,000 automatically pay a 25 percent Federal Tax. Anything between $600 and $5,000 must be declared on a federal tax form.
Same goes for Powerball winners.
How to stay anonymous
As a lottery winner, you are obligated to go public unless you live in one of these states:
- North Dakota
- South Carolina