How To Buy Lottery Tickets Online

So far, only seven total states have passed legislation allowing for online lottery ticket sales, and only six currently offer such services:

Even among these states, rules can differ greatly from state-to-state. For instance, different states have different online offerings that can include a wider variety of online lottery ticket options, digital games, instant win games, and more. There are numerous websites that purport to offer USA online gambling through legal lottery tickets, but players should always treat these claims with skepticism and do their due diligence to ensure that any online ticket purchases are legitimate. The only trustworthy online lottery ticket sales right now go through websites run by the six states mentioned below.

Which States Have A Lottery?

There are currently 45 different state-run lotteries, but only six states offer online lottery options.

Which States Do Not Have The Lottery?

There are five states that currently offer no lottery of any kind:

Alabama

Alabama

State legislators have cited religious objection to gambling as the primary reason Alabama does not offer a lottery.

Alaska

Alaska

The state’s population is too small and widely dispersed to support a state-run lottery.

Mississippi

Mississippi

Mississippi has offered lottery games in the past, but after the Civil War, the state’s rewritten Constitution was changed to outlaw lotteries. The Constitutional prohibition of lotteries survived until 1993 when the Mississippi Legislature voted to put a constitutional amendment allowing lotteries to a statewide referendum. This referendum passed, but no lottery bills have passed in the intervening 23 years.

Nevada

Nevada

As the gambling capital of the world, Nevada has too many corporate interests who would stand to lose money if a lottery was instituted. The casino industry in Nevada wields a lot of political power, and a statewide lottery represents competition, so don’t expect a change here any time soon.

Utah

Utah

Utah lawmakers have strong objections, based on religious grounds, of any and all forms of gambling. The Utah Constitution also has an ironclad prohibition on gambling.

Which States Have Lottery Tickets Available Online?

The following states offer online sales through their website and or mobile apps. Visitors are provided with lots of different games and options for purchases, as well as plenty of resources to learn more about how to play.

Georgia

Georgia

The Georgia Lottery offers online ticket sales through a mobile app that is geofenced to the state’s borders. It also offers dozens of other miscellaneous lottery games, including scratch-off tickets, digital games, second chance tickets, and print and play tickets. The only tickets that players can buy online are those for Cash Pop, digital games, Fantasy 5, KENO!, Mega Millions, and the Powerball.

Illinois

Illinois

Illinois offers the easiest online lottery website in the country. The home screen displays options for buying tickets to six different major lotteries. Clicking any of these options immediately takes you to a screen where you can pick your lottery numbers and purchase any number of tickets for one dollar each. Some lottery pages even offer the option to cross reference your numbers with past winners.

Kentucky

Kentucky

The Kentucky Lottery system offers draw games, scratch-offs and instant play tickets. On their website, you can purchase tickets for nine different lotteries, and the system of selecting numbers is simple and intuitive. Unlike some other websites, the Kentucky Lottery also lists the odds of reaching various prize tiers, so players can get a concrete understanding of their respected return on investment.

Michigan

Michigan

Michigan offers various types of lottery games, including 10 different draw games, three different instant win games, and a huge selection of digital games. The website is a bit more cluttered than ideal, but it does offer players the option to buy lottery tickets in bulk with random numbers, so that’s a nice addition.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire

Like other states, New Hampshire offers a selection of dozens of digital games with potential instant prizes. The state offers six different lottery games, but only the Powerball and Mega Millions offer online compatibility. Online players also have access to something called Fast Play, which approximates a scratch ticket for online users and like the digital games offers potential instant prizes.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Lottery lags behind its contemporaries in terms of website design, but it does offer some interesting tools, like the ability to cross reference your personal lottery numbers with the draw history of all available Pennsylvania lottery games. The website doesn’t offer any digital games and online ticket purchases are limited to the Powerball and Mega Millions, but the website is still valuable because it provides comprehensive information on all the scratch tickets, match games, and non-online lotteries available throughout the state.

Lottery Games Available By State

State State Lottery Powerball Mega Millions Digital Games
Georgia
Illinois
Kentucky
Michigan
New Hampshire
Pennsylvania

Lottery Tickets

How To Buy Tickets For Multi-State Lotteries

There are 34 multi-state lotteries that are operated by an organization called the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), but there are some additional lotteries that don’t fall under the MUSL umbrella, most notably Mega Millions. Only a very small handful of these lotteries are available to online players, but the most notable two are the Powerball and Mega Millions. The official MUSL website offers more information and links to its various member lotteries.

Powerball Tickets

Powerball Tickets

All six states that offer online lottery ticket sales sell Powerball tickets online as well. All 45 states that have a state lottery offer Powerball tickets, along with Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C. Powerball tickets cost $2 each. When players buy a ticket, they select five different numbers from 1 to 63, and then a sixth number, referred to as the "Power Ball", from 1 to 26. Powerball drawings can sell hundreds of millions of tickets. The odds of winning a Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million, but there are smaller tiers of prizes that you can earn by correctly guessing a handful of the numbers. Many brick-and-mortar stores (primarily gas stations, convenience stores, etc.) sell lottery tickets of all kinds, including the Powerball. The Powerball holds drawings every Wednesday and Saturday nights.

Mega Millions Tickets

Mega Millions Tickets

Like the Powerball, Mega Millions tickets are sold in all 45 lottery states plus Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands (although not Puerto Rico). Mega Millions tickets are also available online in all six states that allow online ticket purchases. This lottery is roughly the same format as the Powerball, except that players pick five numbers between 1 and 70 instead of 1 and 63, and the “Mega Ball” consists of numbers 1 through 25. The odds of winning a Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 258.9 million. For an extra dollar per ticket, you can add a “Megaplier” that multiplies non-jackpot winnings. Mega Millions holds drawings every Wednesday and Saturday night.

Lotto America Tickets

Lotto America Tickets

Minnesota was the only one of these states to offer online lottery ticket sales, but they have since repealed that piece of legislation. Lotto America tickets can only be purchased at brick-and-mortar stores. Tickets cost only one$1 and offer twice-weekly (minimum) jackpots worth at least $2 million. Lotto America players choose five numbers from 1 through 50 and an additional bonus number from 1 through 12. The odds of winning a Lotto America jackpot are roughly 1 in 26 million, but there are other tiers of prizes for guessing multiple correct numbers. Lotto America draws are on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Lotto America tickets are sold in:

  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

Lucky for Life Tickets

Lucky for Life Tickets

New Hampshire sells online lottery tickets, but not for Lucky for Life, so players instead have to rely on brick-and-mortar lottery retailers. A Lucky for Life ticket costs $2 and consists of five different numbers from 1 to 48 and a lucky ball number from 1 to 18.  If you win one of the top two prizes, they stick around as long as you're around. The odds of winning a Lucky for Life jackpot are 1 in 30.8 million, but there are other tiers of prizes for guessing multiple correct numbers. Lucky for Life draws numbers on Mondays and Thursdays. Lucky for Life is played in 14 states:

  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont

Cash4Life Tickets

Cash4Life Tickets

Like with other smaller lotteries, Cash4Life tickets are only sold at brick-and-mortar retailers. A Cash4Life ticket consists of five numbers from 1 to 60 and an additional “cash ball” number from 1 to 4. Pick your favorite numbers or get random selections using the Quick Pick feature. The odds of winning a Cash4Life jackpot are roughly 1 in 28.6 million, but there are smaller tiers of prizes for guessing multiple correct numbers. Cash4Life also offers free tickets to anyone who guesses even one correct number. Drawings are held every day at 9 p.m. EST. Cash4Life is currently played in nine states:

  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Florida

2by2 Tickets

2by2 Tickets

2by2 tickets cost $1 and have players picking two numbers between 1 and 26 in both red and white colors. If you guess one number correctly in either color, you earn a free 2by2 ticket. If you correctly guess all four numbers, you win $22,000. There are also some additional features like 2by2 Tuesday, where certain tickets are eligible for a double prize payout. The odds of guessing all four numbers are approximately 1 in 106,000. There are intermediate tiers of prizes for guessing some but not all numbers correctly. 2by2 holds nightly drawings. 2by2 is a lottery game played in:

  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota

3rd Party Lottery Sites

There are other websites that purport to sell lottery tickets that aren’t operated by the six states licensed to sell lottery tickets online. Players should take great pains to avoid these websites at all costs. None of these websites has been properly vetted and it would be very easy to get scammed out of a few dollars or your personal information. If you don’t live in one of the six online lottery states, it is advised that you purchase your lottery tickets through a brick-and-mortar retailer. At best, these websites will gouge you on prices. At worst, your credit card information is getting stolen.

Types Of Online Lottery Games

There are a number of different options for online lottery games depending on personal preferences. The primary options are:

Lottery Drawings

Lottery Drawings

Drawings generally offer the largest prizes but also the worst odds of winning. The lottery organizers draw a set of random numbers within a certain range at pre-determined intervals. People choose their own set of numbers with each lottery ticket and can only win a jackpot if every number matches up. For players who guess some but not all correct numbers, most lotteries will offer separate, lower tiers of prizes. If nobody wins the jackpot, the bulk of the prize rolls over into the next drawing. This is how you get gargantuan prizes like the $1.5 billion Powerball in 2016.

Scratch tickets

Scratch tickets

Scratch tickets must be bought at brick-and-mortar lottery retailers. These are small cards that each have their own rules and prizes. The only constant is that they involve scratching off either some or all parts of the card to get to a second layer of the card that tells players whether they won or lost. These games can be formatted as simple win or lose cards, quizzes where players must scratch off the right answer, or any number of other things.

Instant Win Games

Instant Win Games

These are games of chance that tell players immediately whether they won or lost. Instant win games can involve some type of player interaction—maybe pressing a button to spin a wheel—or they can be automated. Scratch cards are a type of instant win, but online instant win games are usually played like video games.

Biggest Lottery Jackpots In The USA

  1. $1.58 billion (Powerball) – Three winners in Tennessee, Florida, and California
  2. $1.54 billion (Powerball) – One winner in South Carolina
  3. $768.4 million (Powerball) – One winner in Wisconsin
  4. $758.7 million (Powerball) – One winner in Massachusetts
  5. $687.8 million (Powerball) – Two winners in Iowa and New York

Winning the lottery brings with it a life-altering fortune but comes with a whole host of drawbacks as well. That much money can put a heavy strain on relationships and friendships, and the fact that most lottery winners are working-class people with little or no experience managing large sums of money means that winners can often end up broke again. Most states require lottery winners to report to the Lottery Commission to take a public relations photo, but in those that don’t, most winners elect to remain anonymous to avoid unnecessary interpersonal drama and protect their newfound assets from malicious actors.

Future Of Online Lottery Tickets In The USA

Given the fact that lottery sales are cratering with younger generations and the linear nature of time, expect most lotteries to move to a primarily online format in the future. When asked about the lack of sales to younger players, lottery officials have cited things like “a need for instant gratification” and expressed a belief that deflated sales are a result of a marketing issue. The socioeconomic factors behind the decrease in sales are likely much more nuanced, but online lottery sales will still likely be seen as a way to reach younger players and revive the industry as sales continue to decrease.

The rate of adoption for online lotteries has been slow due to pushback from both brick-and-mortar lottery retailers and people concerned that online sales enable addiction. Besides the six states that currently offer online lottery ticket sales, six more (FL, ME, CT, RI, NJ, MA) have rejected bills that would provide for online lotteries. It’s likely still a matter of when, not if, every state lottery will transition into the digital realm, but that inevitability is likely still years away.