In December 2011, the US Department of Justice released a legal opinion on the Federal Wire Act. The opinion stipulated the act only applies to sports betting.
This ultimately paved the way for individual states to allow lottery sales online. Since that time, five states have started online lottery sales programs. A handful of others are considering the idea.
- Green states have passed online lottery bills.
- Red states had online lottery, but suspended sales.
- Blue states had an online lottery bill in 2017.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.