United States Of America Lotteries

Lotteries in USA

Do you know that In the United States, American lotteries are run by 48 jurisdictions: 45 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.

How Did The American Lotteries Started?

Ancient Lotto
Draw game being played

Find below in the table some of the interesting historical facts as to how did the American lotteries in the USA started:

1600  – 1800  1800 – 19001900 – 2021
The First Lottery was played by the British American colonies. 13 original colonies organized lotteries to raise revenues for the purpose of improving schools and universities. During this period most prestigious institutions – Harvard, Princeton and Yale – were established with the help of these lotteries.    San Francisco became the gambling centre in the US during this era.  The Great Depression in 1929 gave a huge boost to gaming. In 1931, Massachusetts legalized bingo in order to help charities and churches raise money.  
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.  Gambling 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.  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.  
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 1885, gaming was made illegal. In 1891, the penalty for playing and operating the game became the same.  The Nevada Legislature, in a bid to promote tourism, legalized almost all types of gambling in 1931.  
Private lottery was approved by the Congress in 1823 for beautifying Washington DC. This era also witnessed wagers on horse racing and the development of casinos in the form of taverns and roadhouses.  Despite this 1895 saw the invention of the slot machine. The machine got outlawed only in 1911. Nevada oscillated between authorizing and banning games.  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.  
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.  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.  Lotteries 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.      
From 1840 – 1860 riverboat gambling started. 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 1910, almost all types of gambling were made illegal in the US.  In 1934 the first modern government-run US lottery was established in Puerto Rico followed by New Hampshire in 1964; today, lotteries are established in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.    
Riverboat gambling ended by the end of 1800 due to the introduction of the railroad and the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861–1865).    The most recent US lottery to be legalized was in Wyoming; it began operation on July 1, 2013.  
  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.  
  As of October 2020, each of the 48 state lotteries offer both Mega Millions and Powerball as a result of a 2009 agreement between the Mega Millions consortium and MUSL to cross-license their game to one another’s members.  
  Mississippi is the most recent to join both, beginning sales in January 2020. Puerto Rico is the only jurisdiction not to offer both, as they do not offer Mega Millions.    
  Presently, many US lotteries support public education systems.  
Table showing how lotteries and gambling came to USA

State Lotteries of USA

Map
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.

American Lotteries 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.

Which States in US Have No Lotteries?

Among the states that do not have lotteries, Alabama, 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
Lotteries can be played online these days

Which States In US Operate American 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
  • 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 American lotteries 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

Which Is The Biggest Lottery In US?

Powerball and Mega Millions
Powerball and Mega Millions


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 matchesWinProbability of winning on one play
5/5 + powerballGrand Prize1 in 175,223,510
5/5$1,000,0001 in 5,153,633
4/5 + powerball$10,0001 in 648,976
4/5$1001 in 19,088
3/5 + powerball$1001 in 12,245
3/5$71 in 360
2/5 + powerball$71 in 706
1/5 + powerball$41 in 111
powerball$41 in 55

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

On April 2, 2020, the Powerball starting jackpot amount was temporarily reset from $40 million to $20 million with the annuity option, with at least a $2 million rollover for each drawing without a jackpot winner, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. This was done to enforce social distancing and discourage crowding of selling venues for large jackpots, and to account for lower interest rates

Mega Millions

Mega Millions
Mega Millions Lotto Ticket


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 matchesWinProbability of winning on one play
5/5 + bonusGrand Prize1 in 258,890,850
5/5$1,000,0001 in 18,492,204
4/5 + bonus$5,0001 in 739,688
4/5$5001 in 52,835
3/5 + bonus$501 in 10,720
3/5$51 in 766
2/5 + bonus$51 in 473
1/5 + bonus$21 in 56
bonus$11 in 21

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

What Is The Legal Age To Play American Lotteries In US?

  • 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 American Lotteries in USA?

Mega Million Lottery In USA

Arizona State Lottery