Playing the lottery online is a relatively new concept in the US. Thus far, only some states allow residents to purchase lottery tickets online, with others still undecided on the idea.
This guide provides information about the online lottery in the US. It covers the states that are offering online ticket sales, how third-party online services work and what games are available to play, among other topics.
Can you buy lottery tickets online in the US?
Buying lottery tickets online is possible in the US, but only in the following areas at the moment: Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Dakota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington, DC.
Other states have considered the idea, and some have gone so far as to propose legislation, but, so far, the locales listed above are the only ones to allow online purchases. Minnesota used to offer online lottery tickets but suspended internet sales in 2015.
United States Lottery – State-by-State
The lottery is one of the most common gambling pastimes in the US. As a matter of fact, all but five states have a lottery available, making it the most widely legalized gambling activity in the country. Here is a short overview of each state’s lottery:
- Alabama — No lottery available.
- Alaska — No lottery available.
- Arizona — Part of the Multi-State Lottery Association, the Arizona Lottery offers Mega Millions and Powerball, as well as several in-house draw games. The lottery’s proceeds go to various public causes, including education, health, business development and the environment.
- Arkansas — The official name of the state’s lottery organization is the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. It offers several draw games, including multi-state games such as Powerball, Mega Millions and Lucky for Life.
- California — Founded in 1984, the California State Lottery features a versatile package of local games and is a charter member of the Multi-State Lottery Association. Most of the profits go to the state’s public schools and colleges.
- Colorado — The Colorado Lottery launched in 1983. It offers Powerball and Mega Millions, as well as several other multi-state and in-house games. The proceeds go to the development of parks and recreation centers, open space conservation and the preservation of wildlife habitats.
- Connecticut — The CT Lottery is one of the oldest lottery organizations in the US, starting in 1972. It offers multi-state draw games, as well as several local ones such as Lotto! and Cash 5. CT Lottery profits go to various general fund-supported services, including education, debt services and retired employee benefits.
- Delaware — The Delaware Lottery began in 1974. It currently features eight draw games, including multi-state ones like Mega Millions, Powerball, Lucky for Life and Lotto America. The profits from the Delaware Lottery go to the state’s general fund.
- Florida — The Florida Lottery offers a plethora of draw games, scratch-offs and instant-win games. It is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, taking part in both Powerball and Mega Millions drawings. It allocates funds to the state’s education programs.
- Georgia — With 10 draw games and dozens of scratchers, the Georgia Lottery has one of the most versatile lineups of any state lottery. Its multi-state games include Powerball, Mega Millions and Cash4Life, and it is one of only 11 online lotteries in the country. One-third of its profits go toward education.
- Hawaii — No lottery available.
- Idaho — The Idaho Lottery launched in 1989. It is part of the Multi-State Lottery Association and offers four multi-state games, on top of several in-house ones. Around two-thirds of the Idaho Lottery’s dividend funds go to public schools.
- Illinois — Residents of Illinois can play Mega Millions and Powerball, along with four other draw games available exclusively from the Illinois Lottery. Around 25 cents of every dollar collected on tickets goes to public programs, including the state’s Common School Fund.
- Indiana — The official lottery of Indiana is called the Hoosier Lottery. It offers several local games, together with the Mega Millions, Powerball and Cash4Life multi-state games. Most of the lottery’s proceeds go to the state’s pension funds for police, firefighters and teachers.
- Iowa — The Iowa Lottery is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, meaning that Iowans can take part in Powerball and Mega Millions. Two other multi-state games are available, Lotto America and Lucky for Life, and you will also find two local ones. The lottery’s proceeds go to the general fund, after which the governor chooses where to allocate them.
- Kansas — The Kansas Lottery began in 1987. It features five multi-state games: Mega Millions, Powerball, Lotto America, Lucky for Life and 2by2. The lottery’s proceeds go into the state’s Gaming Revenue Fund, after which the Legislature decides where to allocate them.
- Kentucky — The Kentucky Lottery offers nine draw games, instant play games and keno, together with the ability to purchase lottery tickets online. It is a part of the Multi-State Lottery Association. So far, the Kentucky Lottery has allocated nearly $6 billion of its proceeds to the state’s education programs.
- Louisiana — The Louisiana Lottery Corp. started selling tickets in 1991. Apart from several local draw games, it offers two multi-state games. Since 2004, the proceeds from lottery ticket sales have gone to education.
- Maine — The Maine Lottery started operating in 1974. Apart from being a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association and offering three of its games, it features Megabucks Plus, a tri-state draw game also available in Delaware and New Hampshire. The lottery’s proceeds go to the general fund.
- Maryland — The Maryland Lottery offers its residents plenty of draw games and scratch-offs, including the multi-state games Powerball and Mega Millions. The profits from Maryland Lottery ticket purchases go to education, public health and safety, and the environment.
- Massachusetts — Lottery players in Massachusetts can choose from among eight draw games, including three multi-state games. A portion of the profits from the Massachusetts Lottery go to the state’s cities and towns, letting each one decide how it wants to allocate the funds.
- Michigan — The Michigan Lottery allows its residents to purchase tickets online. Among the available draw games are three multi-state games and eight in-house ones. The Michigan Lottery directs around $1 billion every year toward its school aid fund.
- Minnesota — As a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, the Minnesota Lottery takes part in Mega Millions and Powerball draws, as well as two other multi-state games and four local ones. Around 40% of the lottery’s proceeds go programs for the environment and natural resources.
- Mississippi — The Mississippi Lottery is the newest state lottery in the US, having launched in 2019. For now, its players can choose from four draw games: Powerball, Mega Millions, Mississippi Match 5 and Pick 3. The first $80 million of the lottery’s annual net proceeds go to road infrastructure, while everything exceeding that amount goes to education.
- Missouri — The Missouri Lottery began in 1986, and it offers eight draw games, including three multi-state ones. The lottery’s proceeds go to education.
- Montana — As a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, the Montana Lottery features Mega Millions and Powerball, together with a few in-house games. Its profits help the retirement funds of elementary and high school districts.
- Nebraska — Residents of Nebraska can participate in several multi-state games, including Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life and 2by2. The Nebraska Lottery also features three local games: Pick 3, Pick 5 and MyDay. The lottery’s proceeds go to education, the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska State Fair and Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund.
- Nevada — No lottery available.
- New Hampshire — The NH Lottery is the oldest state lottery, having started operations in 1964. It features several draw games, including Mega Millions and Powerball. It is one of the latest states to introduce online lottery purchases. One-fourth of all ticket sales go to education.
- New Jersey — The NJ Lottery formed in 1969. It features seven draw games, including multi-state games like Powerball, Mega Millions and Cash4Life. Money from the lottery goes to public employee pension systems.
- New Mexico — Lottery in New Mexico has been around since 1996. The NM Lottery offers two multi-state games and three in-house games. It also features instant win games and scratchers. All proceeds go to the Lottery Tuition Fund.
- New York — The New York Lottery began operating in 1967. It features three multi-state and seven in-state draw games. Lottery revenue goes to local school districts.
- North Carolina — The North Carolina Education Lottery conducts lottery operations in the state. It is currently one of 10 state lotteries (plus DC) that allow online ticket purchases. It offers Mega Millions, Powerball and Lucky for Life. Around 30% of the lottery’s proceeds go toward education programs.
- North Dakota — North Dakota established its state lottery in 2004. Recently, online purchase of lottery tickets became available, as well. Since the ND Lottery is part of the Multi-State Lottery Association, it offers five multi-state draw games. However, it is the only state lottery that does not have any in-house titles. The extra revenue from the ND Lottery goes into the state’s general fund.
- Ohio — The Ohio Lottery is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association and features a total of eight draw games, together with many other instant games. The lottery distributes its proceeds to the state’s education programs.
- Oklahoma — The Oklahoma Lottery began in 2005. It has four multi-state draw games and a couple of in-house games. Just like most state lotteries, the proceeds go to school budgets.
- Oregon — Players of the Oregon Lottery can try a total of six games, including Mega Millions and Powerball. Almost all profits go back to the state, funding various causes such as education, natural resources, state parks and problem gambling treatment.
- Pennsylvania — Pennsylvania has passed an online lottery bill, allowing its residents to buy tickets on the lottery’s website and app. The lottery currently offers 11 draw games: Powerball, Mega Millions, Cash4Life and eight local games. Proceeds from the lottery benefit various programs, such as transportation services, low-cost prescription programs and care services.
- Rhode Island — The RI Lottery (or The Lot) launched in 1974. It offers an online lottery, but only for keno and instant win games. The tickets for draw games, such as Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life and a few local ones, are still only available at retail locations. RI Lottery proceeds go to education, public safety, law enforcement, human services and tax relief.
- South Carolina — The South Carolina Education Lottery features six draw games, three of which are from the Multi-State Lottery Association. As you may have guessed by the organization’s name, all the proceeds go to education programs.
- South Dakota — The South Dakota Lottery launched in 1987. It offers four multi-state draw games and four state-only titles. You must be 18 or older to purchase lottery tickets in SD. However, if you wish to play the video lottery, you have to be at least 21. Nearly half of all money that the lottery raises goes to education, while the rest goes to other causes such as road infrastructure and natural resources.
- Tennessee — The Tennessee Lottery has eight draw games, four of which are multi-state ones. It also features a plethora of instant games. All proceeds go to the state’s education programs.
- Texas — Lottery players from Texas can play Mega Millions, Powerball and six state-only games. As per agreement from 1997, all proceeds from the Texas Lottery go to education.
- Utah — No lottery available.
- Vermont — The Vermont Lottery is a part of the Multi-State Lottery Association and offers three of its most popular games. Additionally, you can find the Megabucks tri-state game and a few state-only titles. Since 1998, all proceeds from the Vermont Lottery have gone to the state’s education fund.
- Virginia — The Virginia Lottery offers several draw games, including multi-state ones, which you can play online through the official website or an app. Money from ticket purchases goes to public school construction and renovations.
- Washington — The Washington Lottery offers Mega Millions and Powerball. It also runs five state-only draw games. The majority of the lottery’s proceeds go to various education programs.
- West Virginia — Residents of West Virginia can take part in three multi-state lottery games, three in-house games, keno draws and scratch-offs. Proceeds from the WV Lottery go to senior care services and improvement of the state’s tourism and infrastructure.
- Wisconsin — The Wisconsin Lottery features two multi-state draw games and several other state-based games. The money from ticket sales goes to Wisconsin taxpayers and local businesses.
- Wyoming — Wyoming is one of the newest states to introduce a lottery, as WyoLotto launched in 2013. Apart from a few in-house games, WyoLotto offers three multi-state games: Mega Millions, Powerball and Lucky for Life. A share of the profits goes to the state’s school fund.
Which states have an online lottery?
Every state has its own lottery system. As a result, some of them offer only in-house games, some limit their offerings to multi-state games, and others will have both. The table below outlines the what’s available in each state.
|State||Powerball||Mega Millions||Draw Games||Online|
After approval in the summer of 2012, and a bit of a false start, Georgia became the second state to offer online lottery ticket sales. Its lottery went online in November 2012. The Georgia Lottery Corporation offers online ticket sales for draw games, including Fantasy 5, Mega Millions, and Powerball.
Plus, there are also Keno games and a selection of games exclusive to Georgia Lottery website called Diggi Games. These interactive games constitute a hybrid of social games and electronic scratch-offs. Diggi Games include crosswords and bingo games.
Georgia is among the top states in the country in terms of per capita lottery sales. The state maintained that status through the introduction of online ticket sales.
Read more about the Georgia Online Lottery.
Illinois launched a pilot program offering online sales of Lotto and Mega Millions tickets in March 2012. At that point, Illinois became the first state to offer online lottery ticket sales.
Illinois then added online tickets to the popular multi-state Powerball lottery in December 2012. The Illinois Lottery website later expanded to include Daily Lottery Games and Instant Games as well.
On March 31, 2014, the Internet Lottery announced online lottery sales totaled $36.9 million in the first two years of the program.
Then, in March 2016, the pilot program was actually set to end if lawmakers failed to pass new legislation authorizing continued internet lottery sales. However, Illinois Lottery Communications Director Steve Rossi decided the Illinois Lottery would continue to operate online. After a detailed policy and law review, Rossi determined continued internet ticket sales were permissible under current law.
Read more about the Illinois Online Lottery.
Kentucky became the next state to offer its lottery online in April 2016. The Commonwealth offers online sales of jackpot and daily draw games as well as instant play games.
Online ticket sales were actually approved by lawmakers in 2013. However, it took the state three years to develop a complex online ticketing system.
Kentucky also employs strict security regulations preventing players from withdrawing money deposited in a lottery account in accordance with money-laundering laws.
At the time of the launch, Kentucky Lottery President and CEO Arch Gleason claimed online lottery sales were a way to attract a younger demographic accustomed to conducting retail purchases online. He also maintained online sales were expected to help, rather than hurt, sales at 3,200 lottery retailers across Kentucky.
Read more about the Kentucky Online Lottery.
After a successful pilot program in the summer, the Michigan Lottery launched online lottery sales in the fall of 2014. At first, the online games available online were only Instant Keno and electronic online scratch-offs.
In January 2016, the Michigan Lottery began offering online sales tickets for its most popular draw games, including Powerball, Mega Millions, Lotto 47, and Fantasy 5.
Lottery Consultant Digital Gaming Group released a report in December 2016 calling Michigan’s online lottery sales program a success. The report showed online lottery sales moved past $8 million a week as of March 2016. Meanwhile, brick and mortar retail lottery operations set all-time records.
Read more about the Michigan Online Lottery.
Minnesota was actually the first state lottery to offer instant-win games online. The Minnesota Lottery launched online sales on the first quarter of 2014 without any kind of legislative approval. In addition to electronic scratch-offs, the lottery offered Mega Millions, Hot Lotto, Gopher 5, and Powerball tickets online.
However, in May 2015, Minnesota lawmakers voted to make online lottery sales illegal, and the games were ultimately pulled.
North Carolina is one of the latest states to introduce a lottery system. The state established it in 2005 under Gov. Mike Easley. The lottery is officially named the North Carolina Education Lottery since all the proceeds go directly to the education fund. Since its inception, the NC Lottery has contributed more than $5.5 billion to the state’s educational programs, and nowadays around 30% of the revenue goes into the fund.
The North Carolina Lottery features three in-house draw games — Carolina Pick 3, Carolina Pick 4 and Carolina Cash 5 — as well as three multi-state games — Powerball, Mega Millions and Lucky for Life. You can view the draws live on six TV stations.
You can purchase lottery tickets online, through the official website.
New Hampshire joined the group of US states with online lottery after its governor signed a bill authorizing online lottery sales in July 2017. On Sept. 18, the New Hampshire online lottery went live. Operated by NeoPollard Interactive, it features several online instant win and draw games.
Mega Millions and Powerball tickets can be purchased online or through apps like Jackpocket, with either custom or quick number selection.
The North Dakota Lottery received voter approval in 2002 and began operating in 2004. At the moment it doesn’t offer any in-house games, just multi-state ones. It currently offers Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life, Lotto America and 2by2 (only available in North Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska).
The lottery’s proceeds go to the state’s general fund. And a percentage goes to gambling treatment and prevention programs.
The minimum age for buying lottery tickets is 18 in North Dakota. You can purchase them on the lottery’s official site or through the app. The online purchasing option is called Pick & Click.
Pennsylvania passed an expansive gambling law in October 2017. As part of the sweeping measure, the state-authorized online casinos, online poker, and online lotteries. The first batch of online lottery games went live on May 29, 2018.
Pennsylvania currently participates in both Powerball and the MegaMillions lotto. These games are not available online yet. Instead, the only online offerings are instant win games. These online games are very similar to a real-life scratch-off game.
As part of the expansion, the Lottery also offers Keno, which also launched in May. It offers virtual sports as well.
Lawmakers hope over the course of the next five years, the lottery will bring the state roughly $250 million in revenue to primarily benefit the state’s seniors. However, legal troubles could sideline the project. Seven PA casinos banded together to sue the state over the iLottery, claiming the instant games are too similar to online slot machines.
Read more about the Pennsylvania Online Lottery.
Rhode Island Lottery
The Rhode Island Lottery launched and began selling tickets in 1974, a year after the state passed a constitutional amendment. Around 83% of the money from the RI Lottery goes to winners, while the rest is divided among the general fund (9%), commissions (7.5%) and lottery operation costs (0.5%).
As a charter member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, the Rhode Island Lottery offers Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life and MegaHits video lottery. The four in-house draw games are The Numbers Game, Wild Money, Keno and Bingo. It also has 25 instant games called Instant$ that you can purchase online.
You can play online lottery games by logging into the official website or downloading the app for iOS or Android. The minimum age for playing lottery games in Rhode Island is 18.
The Virginia Lottery has operated in Old Dominion since 1987, resulting in over $12.4 billion in payouts since that time. Now, Virginia has seen online expansion with its lottery.
While also tasked with overseeing recently legalized online casinos and sports betting, the Virginia Lottery introduced online instant games in July 2020, allowing players to purchase and even play online lottery games through the Virginia Lottery website. Access to these game via the lottery’s app should become available soon.
The Virginia Lottery boasts an array of online instant games, with themes ranging from simple reveal to crosswords to symbol-matching, not to mention blackjack, keno and lottery draw.
As the first online gambling site in the state, the Virginia Lottery has set the trend. And it is at the forefront of an online gambling revolution in Old Dominion.
Read more about the Virginia Online Lottery.
The DC Lottery began operations in 1982. Around 28% of the lottery’s proceeds go to the general fund. Throughout its history, the DC Lottery has allocated over $1.5 billion to various public causes, including safety, education and child services.
The DC Lottery is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, and as such, offers its most popular games: Powerball and Mega Millions. It also added two other multi-state games in recent years: Lucky for Life and Hot Lotto.
As for in-house games, the DC Lottery has six of them: DC 2, DC 3, DC 4, DC 5, Race2Riches and The Lucky One. Other games include scratchers and Tap-n-Play.
DC launched its iLottery in February 2021, allowing its residents to purchase lottery tickets and play games online. However, in order to do so, you must be at least 18 years old and physically present in the district.
Third-party online lottery apps
While some states allow residents to play lottery games online or via apps, the majority do not. However, several third-party lottery apps have appeared in recent years, allowing residents in some states to buy lottery tickets without having to go to a store.
The most notable app of this kind is Jackpocket, which is a service that functions as an intermediary between you and the lottery retailer.
All you need to do is download and install the app, deposit money into your virtual account and place your order. After that, you will receive an email with your order confirmation. You will then get a second email saying that your ticket has been secured. That second email will also include the ticket’s serial number.
Jackpocket will store your ticket in a fireproof safe to await the draw. If your ticket wins and it’s a smaller prize — $600 or less, depending on the state — Jackpocket will place the money into your account. In the event of a larger win, Jackpocket will deliver the ticket to you.
You can withdraw money from your Jackpocket account directly to your bank account, or you can use it for purchasing future tickets. You’ll have to pay a small fee every time you make a deposit. However, the winnings don’t include any fees, so you can expect to always receive full payment.
Jackpocket is an officially licensed third-party lottery app, so you won’t have to worry about being scammed. It is currently available in Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Washington, DC. Jackpocket is working on becoming available in several other states in the near future.
How subscription-based lotteries work
Many state lotteries allow you to buy tickets in advance for a certain number of draws. For example, you can subscribe to Powerball draws for a set amount of time and not worry about forgetting to purchase a ticket or having to run to the retail store every week.
All you need to do is find the subscription service on the official site of your state’s lottery, choose a subscription plan (it can be anywhere from a few weeks up to a full year in some cases), pick your numbers and follow the instructions on how to complete the purchase. Some lotteries will even give you a discount on your subscription. For example, you may be able to subscribe for 26 draws for the price of 25.
For online purchases, you will need to have enough money in your account at all times. You may even need to add an alternative payment method in case your primary account has no funds.
What should I do if I win the lottery?
The way you should claim your lottery winnings depends on the amount. You can cash in small winnings at the retail location at which you’ve bought the tickets. In the case of online purchases, you’ll likely have the option to withdraw what you’ve won directly to your bank account.
For slightly larger winnings, you might need to visit your local lottery claim center and bring the necessary identification documents, as well as an IRS form and claim form. You can also receive the money by mail, but make sure to use certified mail services like FedEx or UPS.
But what happens if you win really big, like hitting Mega Millions or Powerball jackpots? In this case, you’ll have to make some preparations. First, make sure that you do not sign your ticket. Of course, don’t forget to store it in a safe place. Next, you should hire a lawyer and see a financial planner. Once you’ve gathered all the necessary documents, you can make an appointment at the lottery center, which will tell you how to proceed.
Do I have to pay taxes on my winnings?
Yes, you will have to pay taxes on your lottery winnings, both federal and state. The good news is that lottery winnings do not count as income, so they will be exempt from FICA taxes. However, lottery officials will withhold income taxes on wins equal to or exceeding $5,000 at a rate of 24%.
Other taxes you have to pay vary by state. The highest lottery taxes are in New Jersey — about 10.75%. This is followed by the tax rates of Oregon (9.9%), Minnesota (9.85%), Washington, DC (8.95%), New York (8.82%) and Vermont (8.7%).
The most tax-friendly states when it comes to lottery winnings are Tennessee (1%), North Dakota (2.9%), Pennsylvania (3.07%), Indiana (3.23%) and Michigan (4.25%).
What are the odds of winning the lottery?
The odds of hitting the jackpot on Mega Millions or Powerball are astronomical. The majority of draws go without a jackpot winner, and some states have never even had a big winner in the history of their lotteries.
The odds of winning a Powerball jackpot are around one in 292 million. When it comes to Mega Millions, they are one in 303 million. That means that if every person in the US were to play the same lottery draw with different numbers, there would be only one winner.
Many people think that buying more tickets increases their chance of winning. While this might be technically true, the difference is negligible, as you still need to get insanely lucky to hit the jackpot.
Furthermore, jackpot hunters tend to buy tickets from a retailer that has recently sold the winning ticket. This is nothing but a superstition, as any ticket has the potential of being the winning one, regardless of where you buy it.
Even if the chances of you winning the jackpot are incredibly small, they still exist. There have been plenty of people who have become millionaires or even billionaires playing the lottery — after all, you never know when your numbers might pop up.
Still, you should always remember to gamble responsibly and know your limits when purchasing lottery tickets.