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US Online Lottery Guide

Level: Beginner
5 m mins read
Page  created  31 Aug, 2022

Contents

Lotteries in the US have always been immensely popular. With the introduction of legal and regulated online lotteries, players now have instant access to the top jackpots like never before.

Read our guide to learn how to play the US lottery, discover the best winning strategies and find out the best lottery games to play in the US.

How Does the Lottery Work?

Most lotteries work in a similar way. Players must predict several numbers from a pool of consecutive numbers to win. For example, a 6/49 lottery game requires you to accurately predict six numbers from a pool of 49 options for the jackpot.

Some of the largest lotteries, like Powerball and Mega Millions, have an additional pool of numbers, out of which players must select one or two. Both pool numbers must match the drawn numbers to win the jackpot.

Many lottery jackpots are also known as progressive lotteries, which means the amount you can win is increased after each draw if the prizes are not claimed. If someone wins the progressive jackpot, the amount for the next draw will be reset to a predetermined level, and the process repeats. If several players claim the jackpot at the same time, the prize is split evenly.

Thanks to online lotteries, it's now easier than ever to take part in the action. As a result, the jackpots increase quickly, and millions of dollars are always up for grabs. Playing the lottery online also means that players have access to the major lotteries on a global scale. Non-US players can participate in US lotteries, and US players can buy tickets for non-US lotteries.

How to Play the Lottery

Online lottery sites make it incredibly easy to play various types of lotteries. You have everything you need in one place, and you can securely purchase tickets within seconds.

There is no time wasted going to a local vendor and standing in line. Simply follow these easy steps:

  1. Find a lottery site. Choose a reputable online lottery site to start playing right away.

  2. Choose your favorite lottery game. You can have your pick of games, depending on where you are in the states.

  3. Select your numbers. Follow the on-screen steps to choose your numbers, or use the instant random option.

  4. Buy your tickets. Click on the 'buy' button and enter your payment information.

  5. Your tickets are ready. Good luck playing.

Best Lottery Games in the US

Given the popularity of lotteries in the US, there are plenty of games to consider. Each one comes with its own rules, but the general concept remains the same; pick a set of numbers that match the randomly generated numbers to win big.

Here are some of the most popular lottery games in the US:

Image shows the Mega Millions lottery logo
Mega Millions

Mega Millions, also known as The Lotto, is easily one of the most popular lotteries in the world, frequently awarding multi-million jackpots, sometimes exceeding $500 million. Tickets cost $2, and to win the jackpot you must match five numbers out of a pool of 70 and another number out of the second pool of 25.

Image shows the Powerball logo
Powerball

Powerball is known for its record jackpots but often sees players becoming millionaires with prizes of one or two million. Tickets for the Powerball lottery are $2, and similarly to Mega Millions, you need to match five numbers in the first pool of 69 and another number in the second pool of 26.

Image shows the Lotto America logo
Lotto America

Lotto America is smaller than the more prominent lotteries in the US, it's only available in 14 jurisdictions, but jackpots have reached up to $22 million. Tickets cost $1, and to win, you must choose five numbers from a pool of 52 and the Star Ball from a pool of 10 numbers.

More Lottery Games to Play

Daily Lotteries

Although daily lotteries have much smaller jackpots than the other lotteries on our list, they can still award sums of around $175,000 to lucky players. These are available in most states and are pretty popular when it comes to online lotteries. You can pick which type of game you want, with three, four, or five selections. You then select your numbers and how you want to play. A straight pick requires the numbers to be drawn in a specific order. A box selection wins if the numbers match, regardless of the order they were drawn in.

Instant Win Lotteries

Also known as instant scratch-offs or online scratch cards, instant win lotteries have been around for decades. Unlike other lotteries which use draws, players get the results on the spot when playing instant win lotteries.

You often have to scratch the opaque layer off the card to see if you match any icons for a prize. Some instant lotteries in the US can have prizes of up to $10 million.

Playing Lottery on Your Mobile

You can now play the biggest and best lottery games directly from your mobile phone without needing to download any apps or additional software.

Many mobile lottery games have been optimized for mobile access and come with user-friendly interfaces for easy access, letting you quickly pick your numbers or choose from the various systems available.

Pros ✅

  • Purchase tickets within minutes whenever and wherever you are.

  • Quick and easy to find and buy tickets.

  • Top lottery sites run on both Android and iOS devices.

Cons ❌

  • Usually requires Wi-Fi or data access to play.

  • Not all games are included. Smaller state-specific games might not be available.

Lottery Strategy Tips

The entire concept of lotteries is that every draw is random, and every ticket has the same chance of winning. It all comes down to pure luck!

However, there are a few ways you can improve your odds:

  1. Check the Odds. While the odds of winning a multi-state lottery are pretty high, they can differ from one lottery to another. For example, Powerball offers odds of 1 in 292,201,338 while Mega Millions is 1 in 302,575,350. Checking the odds of a lottery won't guarantee you win more, but it can help you make a smarter choice when buying your tickets.

  2. Wait for the Big Jackpots. The chances of winning are the same for every draw, so it is best to wait for larger prizes. As the jackpots get rolled over week after week, the top prize will quickly increase and give you better potential returns.

  3. Play Online. The best online lottery sites give you instant access to various lotteries. You can securely select your numbers and purchase tickets without leaving the comfort of your home. It's also the best way to compare current jackpots and odds.

  4. Try out the Smaller Games. When it comes to lotteries, the major ones get all the attention with their jackpots in the hundreds of millions. However, you can easily take part in smaller lottery games and benefit from better odds of winning. Although the prizes are smaller, they are still significant.

  5. Buy More Tickets. The most obvious way to improve your chances of winning is to purchase more tickets. Online lottery syndicates can greatly extend your lottery bankroll while also helping to increase your odds of winning.

Find more tips on winning the lottery >

How to Use a Lottery Syndicate

Lottery syndicates are groups of players who agree to put their money together and buy tickets. Winnings are then shared based on the number of tickets each person bought.

By pooling the money together and buying more tickets, players can multiply the odds they would have on their own. In some countries, syndicates win over a fifth of the top jackpots in major lotteries.

The winning jackpot to a major lottery can be worth hundreds of millions. A share of those profits can exceed $10 million, more than enough to make it worth at least considering trying out a lottery syndicate online.

The good news is that lottery syndicates are legal and approved, and many top online lottery sites have reliable features for creating and managing syndicates. Users can join online groups and securely pull their money. The operators also ensure that the winnings are paid according to each syndicate member.

Lottery Payouts

Understanding how the lottery is paid out can help save you time if you ever win those million-dollar jackpots. When it comes to the largest lotteries, jackpot winners have two options:

  1. Lump Sum – This is a one-time payment after all the required taxes are paid, and you can usually expect to receive around 30-60% of the advertised lottery jackpot. The amount you receive will depend on the lottery you played and your state's local regulations.

  2. Annuity – Here, you can receive annual installments. For large lottery jackpots, this can take 20 to 30 years. The advantage of opting for annuities is that you are guaranteed a significant income for the next few decades, and depending on tax rates, you could end up getting more than if you went for the lump sum.

Biggest Ever Lottery Wins

Over the years, the top lotteries in the US have awarded some fantastic jackpots, some even exceeding $1.5 billion.

It only takes one lucky ticket to win it all and become an instant multi-millionaire, even after taxes.

Lottery Game Win Amount Location of Win Winner Name
Powerball $1.586 Billion Tennessee, Florida & California John and Lisa Robinson, Maureen Smith and Kaltschmidt, Marvin and Mae Acosta
Mega Millions $1.537 Billion South Carolina Anonymous
Powerball $768.4 Million Wisconsin Manuel Franco
Powerball $758.7 Million Massachusetts Mavis Wanczyk
Powerball $687.8 Million Iowa & New York Anonymous

*Jackpots represent the amount before any taxes or withholdings.

FAQs

Can you buy lottery tickets online?

Yes, you can buy tickets online for the largest lotteries in the US and the world. Visit one of the top sites to get started, and you can be ready to play in just a few minutes.

Is it legal to play the lottery online?

Yes, playing the lottery online is legal and regulated by national and federal governments. We recommend playing the lottery game of your choice with a reputable and trusted online provider and ensuring you have a budget in mind, so you don't gamble beyond your means.

How do I withdraw my winnings from the online lottery?

Withdrawing your winnings is easy; in most cases, the money is paid directly into your online account. If you're lucky enough to win a larger amount, you might be required to collect it in person. Check the T&Cs of any online lottery site for more information on the withdrawal process.

Which is better to play, Mega Millions or Powerball?

The lottery is the ultimate game of chance, but understanding the odds of winning can help decide which lottery game to play. For Powerball, the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338. When playing Mega Millions, the odds are 1 in 302,575,350. Although that is a relatively small difference, knowing the odds can help you make a smarter choice and potentially win big.

Do I need to pay tax on lottery winnings?

Yes, lottery winnings that exceed $600 are subject to federal and state income taxes. The federal government will take 24% of lottery jackpot wins for US citizens, plus up to another 37% for income tax. State taxes can also go up to 8.95%.

What are the best lottery numbers to play with?

While there are no magic numbers that can help you win the lottery consistently, looking at the last 100 draws on a particular lottery could highlight certain patterns and potential numbers to avoid. For example, in Mega Millions, 7, 21, 40, 3, and 58 are common numbers, with the Mega Ball being a 7 more than once. However, lotteries remain random at heart, and chasing patterns might not be the best strategy if you don’t have an unlimited bankroll.