United States of America Lotteries

USA Lotteries
Do you know that In the United States, lotteries are run by 47 jurisdictions: 44 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Now don’t be surprised if you come to know that in the US all lotteries are subject to the laws of each jurisdiction.

Historical Facts

1600s -1800s

Ancient Lotto

  • Playing Lotteries was practiced by the first settlers of the British-American colonies. It was present in the form of lotteries. From time to time, the 13 original colonies organized lotteries to raise revenues for the purpose of improving schools and universities. The organization of lotteries emerged as a civic responsibility. In fact, some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions – Harvard, Princeton and Yale – were established with the help of these lotteries.
  • In 1747, the Connecticut legislature gave Yale a license to raise £7,500 while Harvard waited until 1765 to win approval from the Massachusetts’ legislature to conduct a lottery worth £3,200.
  • George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were prominent sponsors of lotteries dedicated to public works assignment. Lotteries continued to be popular in the 19th century.
  • In 1823, a private lottery was approved by the Congress for beautifying Washington DC. This era also witnessed wagers on horse racing and the development of casinos in the form of taverns and roadhouses.
  • By the end of 1800, gambling was legitimized in the lower Mississippi Valley. But during this period, gambling was also attacked on moral and religious grounds. Moreover, there were a large number of lottery scandals that fanned the air of opposition. In 1833, NY, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania brought an end to legal lotteries. By 1860, only three states – Kentucky, Missouri and Delaware – continued to allow lotteries.
  • This period (1840 – 1860) was also the heydays of the riverboat gamblers. Professional gamblers shifted from their bases in towns to riverboats. As opposed to the modern riverboat gambling or floating casinos, the riverboats in that era were not casinos. Passengers gambled amongst themselves in an informal way.
  • By the end of 1800, riverboat gambling also met its demise with the introduction of the railroad and the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861–1865).

Mid 1800s to early 1900s

Old Lotto Tickets

  • During this time there was the boom in mining and the expansion of the west frontier. The gold rush brought miners to California and also boosted the amount as well as the types of gambling. San Francisco became the gambling centre in the US during this era. In fact, playing lottery became so popular that a 15 x 25 canvas tent cost $40,000 on a yearly basis and the advance had to be paid in gold dust!
  • Lottery play was at a pinnacle in California between 1849 and 1855. The 1850s also saw gambling establishments getting authorized for the purpose of raising money. As settlers moved beyond California, so did gambling.
  • Post 1855, public opinion turned against gambling and the Legislature enacted laws targeting professional gamblers.
  • San Francisco saw professional gamblers being lynched in 1856. In 1860, the Legislature banned banking games.
  • In 1885, gaming was made illegal. In 1891, the penalty for playing and operating the game became the same.
  • Despite the statutes against gambling, 1895 saw the invention of the slot machine. The machine got outlawed only in 1911. Nevada oscillated between authorizing and banning games.
  • Lotteries also made a comeback during the same period since there was a need to rebuild the nation ravaged by war. The Louisiana Lottery was the most prominent venture of the 1860s.
  • By 1910, almost all types of gambling were made illegal in the US.

Early 1930s to 21th century

US lotteries

  • The Great Depression which began in 1929 gave a huge boost to gaming. In 1931, Massachusetts legalized bingo in order to help charities and churches raise money.
  • By 1950s, 11 states had legalized bingo. Wagers in horse races also made a comeback. In the 1930s, 21 US states re-introduced race tracks.
  • The Nevada Legislature, in a bid to promote tourism, legalized almost all types of gambling in 1931. Nevada had an already-booming, albeit illegal, gambling industry. In fact, the move to legalizing gambling was due to the concern that prohibition on gambling could not be enforced and illegal gambling was corrupting the concept of law enforcement.
  • The gaming industry in Nevada was helped by the fact that Los Angeles made gambling businesses illegal. The gambling establishments in Los Angeles were mostly run by criminals who simply moved to Nevada to put their skills to use.
  • Lotteries also resurged during this period. One of the most prominent forms of lotteries was the Irish sweepstakes which began in 1930 with the intent of raising money for Irish hospitals. The illegal ‘number’ game also became quite popular and grossed $20 million in
  • The first modern government-run US lottery was established in Puerto Rico in 1934, followed by New Hampshire in 1964; today, lotteries are established in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
  • The most recent US lottery to be legalized was in Wyoming; it began operation on July 1, 2013 although tickets will not be sold for about a year. Some retailers that sit on state lines often offer both state lotteries with state boundaries clearly marked, since such sales still have to occur in the physical state it is offered; one retailer located along U.S. Route 62 that is largely in Sharon, Pennsylvania but has a small portion lying in Missouri, Ohio sells both the Ohio Lottery and the Pennsylvania Lottery at one location.
  • The first modern US joint lottery game was formed in 1985 in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. In 1988, the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) was formed with Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia as its charter members; it is best known for Powerball, which was designed to create large jackpots. Another joint lottery, The Big Game (now called Mega Millions), was formed in 1996 by six other lotteries as its charter members.
  • Instant lottery tickets, also known as scratch cards, were introduced in the 1970s and have become a major source of lottery revenue. Some lotteries have introduced keno and/or video lottery terminals (slot machines in all but name).
  • Individual lotteries often feature three-digit and four-digit games akin to “numbers games”; a five number game game, and a six number game (the latter two often have a jackpot.) Some lotteries also offer at least one game similar to keno. Presently, many US lotteries support public education systems.

State Lotteries of USA

Map showing US lottery jurisdictions (in blue) – States highlighted offer Mega Millions and Powerball as of May 15, 2013; the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands each also offer both games.

State lotteries have become a significant source of revenue for the states, raising $17.6 billion in profits for state budgets in the 2009 fiscal year (FY) with 11 states collecting more revenue from their state lottery than from their state corporate income tax during FY 2009.

Lottery policies within states  have conflicting goals.  Given that instructions are passed down from state legislatures, lottery implementation is often expected to be carried out with reduced advertising and funding while still producing the same amount of revenue. This issue led states to look for loopholes in the system. Massachusetts for example, had its advertising budget dramatically cut, and therefore started using free-play coupons as money to pay for advertising. This led to an IRS investigation into alleged non-reporting of income because in the eyes of the IRS, the coupons had monetary value.

In 1964, New Hampshire voters approved the lottery, The rationale used by proponents of the lottery to justify its legalization was strictly economic. The lottery was an instant success with 90 per cent of the lottery tickets being bought by out of state residents.

From 1964 to 1974, every north-eastern state approved a lottery. Two rationales were used to justify the lottery activity in all these states:

  • People are going to gamble, so why shouldn’t the state profit from this activity;
  • Neighbouring states were reaping benefits from constituents buying lottery tickets in those states, therefore the state needed to institute a lottery in order to keep the money ‘home’.

All these lotteries were operated by state agencies. They were not only state-sanctioned, but also operated by state governments.

The greatest growth of state lotteries occurred in the period between 1980 and 1990. During this time, 25 states not only approved lotteries but other additional forms of gambling such as off-track betting (OTB), keno (a type of high stakes bingo that is played every five minutes) and video poker machines (usually found in bars and restaurants).

All of these new forms were meant to supplement the revenue capabilities of lotteries. By 1993, only two states (Utah and Hawaii) did not have some form of legalized gaming. Lotteries and associated forms of gaming had gained a social acceptance that had not occurred in previous waves of lottery activity.

States with no lotteries

Among the states that do not have lotteries, Alabama, Mississippi, and Utah cites religious objections. Nevada’s lucrative gambling industry has lobbied against a state lottery there, fearing the competition. Alaska and Hawaii, being outside the contiguous United States, have not felt the pressure of losing sales to competitors.

  • The only lottery operated by the US Federal Government is the US Citizenship and Immigration Service Diversity Visa Lottery Program, often referred to as the Green Card Lottery.
  • The individual American States listed below operate lotteries that require the purchase of a ticket at either a store or a ticket machine in that state.
  • You cannot purchase a ticket to a State Lottery on the Internet if you are not living in USA. That is considered as illegal also.  You are never notified if you win.
  • You must check your ticket against winning numbers.
  • All Lotteries must be licensed and registered with their respective Gaming or Lottery Commission

US lotto

The List of States that operate Lotteries Individually

  • Alabama – no State Lottery
  • Alaska – no State Lottery
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas – no State Lottery
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii – no State Lottery
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi – no State Lottery
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada – the Nevada State Constitution does not permit lotteries
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina – no State Lottery
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma – no State Lottery
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah – no State Lottery
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington State
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming – no State Lottery

Other U.S. lotteries

These games also are offered by multiple lotteries. Some of these games feature a shared progressive jackpot:

  • 2by2 – Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota
  • All or Nothing – Iowa, Minnesota (several other draw games with this name are one-state games)
  • Cash4Life – New Jersey, New York; Pennsylvania, Virginia
  • Hot Lotto – Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia
  • Lucky for Life – Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont; adding North Dakota in January 2016
  • Mega Hits (slot machine) – Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island, West Virginia
  • Tri-State Lottery (Megabucks Plus, Pick 3 (Day & Night), Pick 4 (Day & Night), Fast Play) – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont
  • Wild Card 2 – Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota


Powerball Lottery
US Powerball is one of America’s biggest lottery games and best-known lotteries across the globe, with jackpots starting at $40 million and snowballing into amazing prize pools! The US lottery features an easy to play format, a $1 million second prize, and eight amazing secondary prizes. Powerball has its sights set on reaching a $1 billion top prize by 2022 and is capturing players’ imagination with its enormous prizes.

Number of matches Win Probability of winning on one play
5/5 + powerball Grand Prize 1 in 175,223,510
5/5 $1,000,000 1 in 5,153,633
4/5 + powerball $10,000 1 in 648,976
4/5 $100 1 in 19,088
3/5 + powerball $100 1 in 12,245
3/5 $7 1 in 360
2/5 + powerball $7 1 in 706
1/5 + powerball $4 1 in 111
powerball $4 1 in 55

The overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in 31.85. The odds presented here are based on a $2 play.

Mega Millions

Mega Millions
The famous US lottery  MegaMillions offers a minimum $15 million jackpot with excellent 1 in 15 overall odds of winning a prize. It is America’s top lottery jackpot game, and you could become a millionaire by matching just five numbers for a $1 million 2nd prize, which can be multiplied by 2-5 times with the exciting Megaplier!

Number of matches Win Probability of winning on one play
5/5 + bonus Grand Prize 1 in 258,890,850
5/5 $1,000,000 1 in 18,492,204
4/5 + bonus $5,000 1 in 739,688
4/5 $500 1 in 52,835
3/5 + bonus $50 1 in 10,720
3/5 $5 1 in 766
2/5 + bonus $5 1 in 473
1/5 + bonus $2 1 in 56
bonus $1 1 in 21

The overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in 14.7. The odds presented here are based on a $1 play.

The Age to Play USA Lotteries

  • The rules regarding minimum gambling age may differ between different lotteries and between different types of lotteries within the same jurisdiction.
  • The most common gambling age for the state lottery is 18 years but certain states such as Arizona and Iowa require you to be 21 years of age before you are allowed to play. Below you can find a list of the minimum required age to play the state lottery in different states in the USA.
  • It is better to ask about the gambling age every time you play a new lottery if you want to be certain that you do not break any rules. Or else you might lose your prize if you turn out to be too young to play that particular type of lottery in that jurisdiction.

Are you ready for the Lotteries in USA.

Mega Million Lottery In USA

Arizona State Lottery