US Online Lottery Guide for 2020

If you are a resident of the U.S., you likely have a grasp on what state lotteries are. You probably also are familiar with larger lotteries such as Mega Millions and Powerball. However, you might not know that some states now allow residents to enter the state lottery online instead of at a physical location.

Here we’ll be going over which states have legalized online lotteries and what makes each one unique from the rest. We’ll also delve into the different games you’ll see in an online state lottery, bonus offers, and the process for collecting winnings.

Don’t worry if your state doesn’t yet offer an online lottery option. This is likely to change sometime in the future. With the Internet growing and more accessible than ever, the world is moving toward one of convenience.

Which States Let You Play Legal Lottery Games Online?

Several states now offer the option to legally play lottery games online. Each state has its own system in place with customized rules and regulations as well as its own set of games. We’ll go through each state’s online lottery system and explain what it offers.

Michigan’s Online State Lottery

Michigan is another of a handful of states that offers legal online lottery games on the Michigan Lottery website. Signing up for the service is safe and straightforward. It can be done from any smartphone, computer, or tablet, and you can play games on any of these devices. To sign-up, users should be at least 18-years-old and residents of Michigan. 

There are three different lottery games available online at the Michigan Lottery, including draw games, Keno, and Instants Online. The draw games include Powerball and Mega Millions, like most other online lotteries. However, Fantasy 5 and Lotto 47 are also available on the Michigan website and app.

Instants Online games are like scratch-off tickets but online. They look the same as a regular ticket. The idea is to match up symbols or prize amounts to win money or a prize. Keno is also available where players choose a ticket and pick 10 numbers from one to 80. The computer chooses 20 numbers, and players win based on how many of the numbers they chose are selected.

When you sign-up for the Michigan lottery, the current promotion provides you with 20 free instant Keno games. You do not have to make a deposit to receive this promotion.

Pennsylvania’s Online State Lottery

Compared to other states with an online lottery, Pennsylvania jumped on board a bit later. The state launched its online version in the middle of 2018.

To use the lottery’s website or associated apps, you’ll need to sign-up for an account. You also must be 18-years-old or older, a resident of Pennsylvania, and located in the state during play.

There are currently two kinds of games available with the Pennsylvania Lottery online. The first are instant win games that are similar to scratches. Some of the instant win games available include Cashbuster Towers, Ballroom Bingo, Deal or No Deal, and Fast Buck Basketball. Secondly, there are two Keno games available on the online Pennsylvania Lottery.

This state lottery offers a matched deposit bonus of up to $250. Those who sign-up without depositing will still enjoy a free $20 for games on the website and apps.

Georgia’s Online State Lottery

The state of Georgia has had an online lottery option available since 2011. After the Department of Justice ruled that the Wire Act doesn’t apply to online lotteries, Georgia became one of the first states to take lottery games to the internet.

Three different types of games are available on Georgia’s online lottery. These include draw, Keno, and Diggi Games. The lottery added some of the most popular draw games in 2012, including Powerball, Fantasy 5, and Mega Millions. All of these games have jackpots that reach into the millions, and in the case of Powerball, billions.

Keno offers the chance to win up to $100,000 hundreds of times a day with draws every four minutes. Diggi Games, on the other hand, are exclusively on mobile devices and the web. Most are digital versions of retail scratch-off games.

Individuals who sign-up for the Georgia Lottery online receive a $20 bonus on a first-time deposit of at least $100. The deposited funds and bonus funds are for lottery game use only.

Kentucky’s Online State Lottery

Kentucky became the third state to offer lottery sales online in 2016. To participate in the Kentucky Lottery online, you must be within state limits, 18-years-old, and registered for an online Kentucky Lottery account. One of the reasons Kentucky made this move was to increase sales. It made sense for the lottery to become available where consumers are, and many young consumers spend a lot of time online.

Kentucky now offers a wide selection of games to its residents. These include draw games like Keno, Powerball, Mega Millions, Cash Ball 225, and Lucky for Life. The Kentucky Lottery website also features instant play games including Super Cashbuster, Money Strike, Champion Raceway, and Celtic Clouds. 

In addition to draw and instant play games, a selection of scratchers can be played on the Kentucky Lottery website. These work the same way as scratchers from retail establishments and include favorites like Lucky, Gold Rush, Silver Dollar, and Bonus Cash Doubler.

There are several promotions available for users of online Kentucky Lottery. For one, your first deposit will receive a 25 percent match up to a maximum deposit of $499. Secondly, when you play Super Cash Buster, you will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card. The lottery also offers a loyalty program called the “Fun Club”, which offers additional perks.

Illinois’s Online State Lottery

Illinois began offering online lottery ticket sales through a pilot program in March 2012. To take part in the online lottery, an individual has to register for an account on the Illinois Lottery website. Those with accounts can subscribe to specific lottery games for one to 25 turns. The accounts also offer the ability to view a history of wins and purchases.

There are two major types of lottery games online in Illinois: jackpot games and daily games. The jackpot games started with Powerball and Mega Millions but have since been expanded to offer two more games. You can now also play Lotto and Lucky Day Lotto through the Kentucky Lottery online. 

The daily games are a new addition to the Illinois Lottery online. They currently include Pick 3 Plus Fireball and Pick 4 Plus Fireball. Both of these games are only available in Illinois and have two drawings each day. A player chooses three numbers from one to nine and can win up to $250.

How Do Online Lottery Bonuses Work?

You may have noticed a few different lottery bonuses mentioned above. Each of them works a little differently. It’s worth understanding which promotions are available in which states and how each one works.

No Deposit Bonuses

As you might guess from the name, a no deposit bonus provides a new user with some amount of funds. It does not require the user to make a deposit first. Essentially, this means that the new player can enjoy a few games without using any of their own money. 

Most of the time, the bonus is a fairly low value. However, it allows users the chance to test out a lottery website or mobile app without paying money. If they enjoy the games, users will then make a deposit and play with their own money.

There are several ways to claim a no deposit bonus. It could be given after you register for a state lottery website or after you sign-up for an email newsletter. Some lotteries will also offer no deposit bonuses if you verify your phone number or email address.

Deposit Or Match Bonuses

A match bonus, also be known as a deposit bonus, is a bit more complex than a no deposit bonus. Essentially, this bonus is given by a state lottery when you make your initial deposit to play games on the website or app. The lottery will match your deposit by a certain percentage.

Each online lottery might offer a different bonus configuration. For instance, one option might say something like “25 percent up to $500 deposit bonus.” In this case, the lottery will match your initial deposit with an additional 25 percent up to $500. This can be confusing, so an example might help.

Let’s say someone deposits $100 on the online lottery website. 25 percent of 100 is $25, so that person would receive a match bonus of $25 for a total of $125 in spending money. Someone who deposits the maximum of $500 would get a $125 match bonus for a total of $625 to spend on lottery games online.

On the other hand, let’s say the match bonus is 100 percent of your deposit up to $250. Your deposit would basically be doubled up to a maximum of $250. Since the terms of these bonuses vary between sites, make sure you know what you’re signing up for.

VIP Programs

A VIP program for a state lottery can offer all sorts of different perks. To join, you need to sign-up, but it’s often well worth it. They can include everything from better lottery promotions to savings on gameplay. They are likely to also offer discounts tailored specifically for members of the VIP program.

We mentioned earlier that Kentucky’s online lottery has the Fun Club VIP program. Some of the things that this club offers include:

  • The ability to receive special promotional materials from the lottery
  • The option to check tickets for winners using the lottery app
  • The choice to purchase and play online lottery games offered by the state
  • The special chance to enter any second change promotions on the site or app

Some loyalty clubs will also offer free games or send out emails with promotion codes. Since joining a loyalty club is typically free and just requires filling out a form, it’s recommended if available. There’s no reason to turn down perks if they are coming to you for very little effort.

What Kinds Of Games Do Online Lotteries Offer? How Do They Compare To Regular Lotteries?

While traditional retail-based lotteries have been around for decades, online state lotteries are something much more modern. People who have been playing the lottery for years may not always be aware that an online option is available. They also may not know why it’s a commonly preferred alternative to typical lotteries.

Instant Win

An instant win game is one of the most popular types of lottery draws. While regular lotteries might have draws on scheduled dates, instant win games let you win prizes the moment you play. This game appeals to people who want to know immediately if they’ve won, rather than waiting for a drawing that might be days or weeks away.

Instant games come in many types, so they appeal to a large variety of people. For instance, some games might be similar to bingo. Others might look like slots. Many will involve symbol matching, reveals, or crosswords. These games are known as “instant” because you’ll know right away if you’ve won.

The price to play these games can vary greatly depending on the state you’re in and which game you choose to play. Sometimes it might cost less than a quarter, while others can cost up to $10. This makes them accessible to a large variety of people with different budgets and needs.

One reason that many people are fans of online state lotteries is because they tend to offer smaller bets. It gives those who want to play occasionally the chance to do so without spending a lot. At the same time, those who prefer to spend more still have that option.

Scratch-Off Cards

Ever grabbed a coin to scratch off a traditional scratcher ticket from your state lottery? You’ll get a similar feeling with online lottery scratchers. While you won’t need a dime to scratch off the foil, these games are still very similar to the traditional model.

Many states with online lotteries offer the same scratch cards used in physical locations on their websites and apps. They’re just a digital version. Instead of scratching the card physically, you use your mouse to scratch the spaces on your screen and uncover what’s underneath.

Once you scratch your card, you can see what symbols or numbers are underneath and if those correspond to free additional cards or other prizes. Then, you can choose to play more, withdraw your winnings, or head off to do whatever else you need to do.

Another reason that online state lottery systems may be preferable, which relates to this kind of game, is that there’s no need to leave your home for access. That means that you don’t have to spend money on gas or put more wear and tear on your vehicle to play your favorite lottery games. It also means those without vehicles can play lottery games from their homes or wherever else they happen to be.

Ticket Purchases

The final option on state lotteries online is the ability to purchase lottery tickets. In this case, we mean tickets for large lotteries like Mega Millions and Powerball, as well as smaller state-based lotteries. While Powerball and Mega Millions are the most well-known, some of the other multi-state and single-state lotteries can also offer fantastic prizes.

This is one of the biggest reasons that people appreciate online lotteries. Signing up for a national lottery that can offer millions of dollars in prizes is something that lots of people want to engage in. Winning tickets or a few hundred dollars is nothing compared to being the one person who ends up winning millions on a single ticket.

For all of the above reasons, it should come as no surprise that many people prefer the online lotteries to the more traditional systems. Even people who might not play the lottery normally might be tempted in states where it’s legal to simply go online.

Are Legal Online Lotteries Safe And Fair?

You might be wondering whether legal online lotteries are fair and whether they’re safe. Both of these considerations are important, but you can rest easy. State lotteries online are just as safe and fair as any other lottery that your state offers. Below are some of the ways in which these lotteries prove that they are safe.

  • All Games Are Tested Thoroughly – When you play games on a state lottery website or app, you get the peace of mind that comes from knowing that each game has been tested repeatedly. Lotteries are regulated and have to meet certain standards, so as long as you stick to official state sites, you are getting games that you can trust.
  • State Lotteries Handle Massive Prizes – Because online state lotteries are dealing with massive prizes in many cases, they have to dot all their i’s and cross all their t’s. Having that much responsibility means that the operators are doing everything possible to offer a fair gaming experience. Making the wrong decision or handling something in the wrong way could create issues, which the states want to avoid since these games bring in revenue. This is another reason you can be sure you’re safe on their apps and sites.
  • Lotteries Are Very Unlikely To Close – The lotteries run by states in the U.S. are very unlikely to close, which means you know who has your money, and there is no chance of losing it based on an application or a site closing. Even in the unlikely situation where a lottery is discontinued, the money in your account or otherwise tied up in games would be refunded to you in some way.

Compared to many gaming sites, online lotteries are among the safest you can choose. They also have to remain fair to keep their good reputation. If your only concern about signing up for your state lottery is safety, it’s something that you don’t need to worry about.

How Do Online Lottery Ticket Subscriptions Work?

Some states also offer a system where you can subscribe to receive lottery tickets regularly. While these games are not carried out online, they provide another option of playing lottery games without having to leave your home. One of the best examples of this is New York, and we’ll explain how it all works below.

In New York, the lottery subscriptions you can sign up for include Cash 4 Life, Lotto, and Mega Millions. Subscriptions can be paid for over the Internet using a bank account, a major credit card, or an eCheck. If you end up winning a prize using these services, you can withdraw the winnings from your account.

New York has had some form of a lottery subscription system since 1981, so players could buy multiple tickets for Lotto. This service became available online toward the end of 2005. Five years later, the program was expanded to offer new products and options for users.

Today, people in New York can purchase a group subscription and log-in to a secure player account to view prize winnings. They can also make a variety of multi-draw purchases rather than the “play by mail” or standard 26 and 52-week plans. It just goes to show how much things have changed over the years and how online lotteries have expanded people’s options.

Another example is Maryland. The state offers subscriptions to Mega Millions, Multi-Match, Cash 4 Life, and Powerball. This system lets you play numbers for 13, 26, or 52 weeks, so you never miss a chance to win when the jackpot is high. The website also lets you keep track of what you win, provides the means to collect points, allows you to order merchandise, and gives you the opportunity to enter special drawings.

These kinds of services are becoming more and more common in different states and offer extra convenience for those who want to play the lottery but may not have the time to visit a location outside of the home to do so. It also allows users to ensure they sign-up every week and don’t accidentally skip a week when things are busier than usual.

How Do Lottery Courier Services Work?

A lottery courier service is a third-party individual or company that purchases lottery tickets for you so that you do not have to do it on your own. These services can work in a few different ways depending on what you are and who is doing the courier work. The first option is for the tickets to be held in a vault or safe, while the second is for the courier to bring the purchased tickets right to your door where you get access to them.

This new system for getting lottery tickets remotely is becoming common in states that do not have an online lottery system. When the lottery can’t sell tickets online to people, a company can instead purchase the tickets for you. For situations where the actual tickets are not handed off, you’ll receive the numbers online and then be provided with the ticket if you win.

There are two kinds of couriers when it comes to the lottery, and we’ll go into each of them a bit more below:

  • Domestic Courier Services – This kind of courier will sell tickets within a specific state and offer all the games that are available in that state. This is a model that has become accepted in several different states. New Jersey has even become the first state to create regulations for this business model.
  • International Courier Services – An international courier will sell tickets for games such as Mega Millions and Powerball but outside of the United States. This is less common and not as favorable an action, but something that should be mentioned since it is an entirely different situation.

While domestic couriers for the lottery aren’t found in all states, the number of locations that offer them is steadily growing. It may come to your state eventually if it hasn’t already.

Legal Online Lotteries In The U.S. – FAQs

Why don’t I have online lotteries in my state?

Because your state hasn’t decided to offer the option at this time. While there are a handful of states that offer online lotteries as an alternative to or in addition to traditional lottery options, they are still in the minority. Some states have decided that online lotteries are not safe or have other reasons they are holding back at the current time.

Why do legal online lotteries ask for my SSN?

For legal and tax purposes. Some states only require that you provide your entire Social Security Number if you’ve won at least $600, while others require it for any online lottery usage. Having the information for taxes is important to avoid running into problems with the IRS, so your SSN will likely need to be on record at one point or another.

Who regulates legal online lotteries?

Lotteries, online or otherwise, that are legally run by the state are required to meet regulations that also vary by state. That means that the regulations for Georgia are likely to be different from those in Pennsylvania or Indiana. The revenue made through these lottery programs is used to meet the needs of the state in different ways, such as highway construction or funding schools.

How do I deposit at online lotteries?

This will vary by state. For instance, in Pennsylvania, you can deposit using a credit card, through PA Lottery Play+, WebCash, and more. While the specifics may be different for specific states, most of the online lotteries will allow you to use credit or debit cards so you can default to that if you aren’t sure. Look at the information for your state for more specific details.

Can I play Powerball online?

It depends on where you live. States that offer legal online lotteries will often include Powerball as one of its options. That means if you are in Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, or Pennsylvania, it’s entirely legal to purchase Powerball tickets online rather than needing to do so in-person. Those who are in other states will still need to buy their tickets at a retail establishment.

Can I play Mega Millions lottery online?

That depends on where you are located. Those who are in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Dakota, North Carolina, and Kentucky can play the Mega Millions lottery online instead of visiting a physical location to play. If you are located in another state, online play is not available, so you’ll need to go to a retail business that sells the tickets.

Is it safe to play online lottery?

Yes. As long as you are using a legitimate website to access the online state lottery, it is safe to play. Since these sites house your financial data, they are built to be very secure to keep you safe. Check the bottom of the lottery’s page for details about how your information is kept safe.