Legal Online Lottery In The US

State lotteries operate in 45 US states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Lotteries represent one of the oldest forms of legal gambling in the US, with origins dating back to the 1700s. Legal online lottery is not as widely available but is growing in the US.

Lotteries in participating US states generally direct revenue toward state programs, organizations, and charities. In Illinois, for example, 25% of all revenue is applied to in-state schools, charities like the Special Olympics, and causes like Homelessness Prevention.

Illinois became the first US state to legally offer online purchases of lottery tickets almost a decade ago. Through state-regulated platforms and the Jackpocket lottery courier app, online lottery purchases are available in 15 states.

Which States Have Legal Online Lottery?

State/TerritoryYear LaunchedPowerballMega Millions
Illinois2012YesYes
Georgia2012YesYes
North Carolina2013YesYes
Michigan2014YesYes
New York**2015NoYes
Kentucky2016YesYes
Pennsylvania2018YesYes
Minnesota*2018YesYes
New Hampshire2018YesYes
North Dakota2019YesYes
Texas*2019YesYes
New Jersey*2019YesYes
Colorado*2020YesYes
Washington DC*2020YesYes
Oregon*2020YesYes
Arkansas*2020YesYes
Virginia2020YesYes

*online lottery purchases only available on the Jackpocket mobile app

**subscription service only allows purchases for Mega Millions, Cash4Life

The History Of Online Lottery In The US

The origins of the lottery in the US go back to the early 1700s, even before the US became an independent nation. According to US historians, newspaper ads from the colonial era indicate the existence of hundreds of lotteries throughout the 18th century.

Puerto Rico became the first US territory in the 20th century to introduce a lottery, doing so in 1934. New Hampshire followed in 1964 as the first US state to offer lottery.

As of 2020, 45 states, along with Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, operate lotteries in the US. Each of these states and territories offer instant win and drawing games unique to each jurisdiction.

All of these territories, apart from Puerto Rico, also participate in MegaMillions and Powerball, the two biggest national lotteries in the US. These multi-state games can see grand prizes go over the $1 billion mark.

Wire Act Opinion And Online Lottery

In 2011, the US Department of Justice issued an opinion on the federal Wire Act that paved the way for individual states to offer online lottery sales. The 1961 Wire Act outlawed electronic transactions related to gambling, but the 2011 opinion ruled that the language in the Wire Act only applied to sports betting.

Illinois became the first US state to offer online lottery sales, with the Illinois Lottery implementing the program in March 2012. As of 2020, seven US offer legal online lotteries.

These states offer online purchases to in-state instant win, drawing, and other games, as well as the national lotteries such as MegaMillions and PowerBall. Online lottery is one of the most common forms of online gambling in the US.

What Bonuses Do Online Lotteries Offer To Players?

Deposit Match Bonuses

Deposit match bonuses allow players to earn bonus money matching a percentage of a player deposit. This kind of bonus is one of the most commonly offered promotions across legal online gambling sites.

The Pennsylvania iLottery, for example, offers a 50% match bonus for first-time depositors, up to $50. With this offer, new players can earn up to $50 in bonus money.

For instance, to earn the full $50 bonus, a new player would have to deposit at least $100. This bonus comes with a 5x playthrough requirement, meaning five times the original deposit must be wagered to earn the full bonus.

Deposit match bonuses don’t always just apply to new players making their first deposit at an online lottery site. The Pennsylvania iLottery also offers the same 50% match bonus, up to $50, for a second deposit made on the platform.

This second deposit match bonus offer carries the same 5x playthrough stipulation, which must be fulfilled within 45 days of the deposit.

How To Purchase Lottery Tickets Online

State Lottery iOS And Android Apps

Most legal online lottery platforms offer mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices.

Android apps must be downloaded directly from a state lottery website. This is because the Google Play store doesn’t allow for downloads of real-money gambling apps. For iOS users, these apps can be found in the App Store.

Jackpocket App

The Jackpocket mobile app legally offers online lottery purchases in several states that don’t have a dedicated online lottery platform.

Jackpocket can be downloaded for both Android and iOS devices. Android users can find the download link at the Jackpocket website.

Desktop

Online lottery tickets can also be purchased directly from a state lottery website, using virtually any desktop browser.

Purchasing Tickets And Redeeming Prizes

Purchases for in-state instant win and drawing games, as well as Powerball and MegaMillions, are just a click away on legal online lottery apps.

Winning tickets are automatically redeemed, with the cash prizes from those tickets available for withdrawal through several methods.

Use our random Lottery Numbers Generator to choose your lottery tickets and to purchase tickets online.

Depositing And Withdrawing

ACH/eCheck, PayPal, debit cards, credit cards, and PayNearMe are some of the methods offered for depositing at legal online lottery sites.

ACH/eCheck and PayPal can be used for withdrawals as well.

How To Play Mega Millions Online

All states offering online lottery through state-regulated platforms and the Jackpocket mobile app allow for ticket purchases to MegaMillions.

MegaMillions and Powerball are the two biggest multi-state lotteries operating in the US. MegaMillions offers purchases in 45 states, Washington DC and the US Virgin Islands.

The MegaMillions drawing game happens twice every week, and carries a grand prize that can sometimes reach over $1 billion. The biggest MegaMillions jackpot ever saw $1.537 billion paid out to the winner.

Winning MegaMillions tickets purchased through state online platforms are automatically redeemed after the drawing, with the winnings paid to the player’s account balance. Those funds can then be withdrawn via ACH/eCheck, PayPal, and various other methods.

The Jackpocket app automatically redeems and pays out winnings of $600 or less. For bigger prizes, Jackpot arranges for the secure delivery of the winning ticket.

How To Play Powerball Online

Much like MegaMillions, Powerball tickets can be found on the menu in all states offering legal online lottery purchases. Powerball is offered in 45 US states, Washington DC, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Powerball operates as one of two major national lotteries in the US. Like MegaMillions, Powerball drawings are conducted twice weekly, with massive potential payouts on the line.

The biggest lottery jackpot in US history saw $1.586 billion paid out to a Powerball winner in 2016.

Powerball tickets purchased online are automatically redeemed in the case of a win.

The Jackpocket app automatically redeems wins of $600 or less. Wins of more than $600 result in Jackpot securely delivering the winning ticket to the winner.

What Are Instant Win Lottery Games?

Instant win lottery games represent some of the oldest forms of legal gambling in the US. Even the lotteries from the 18th century uncovered by US historians featured forms of instant win games.

The most familiar instant win lottery format comes in the form of scratch-off tickets. Physical instant win scratch-off tickets feature various payouts, and the frequency and amount of these payouts depend on the game.

Online versions of instant-win games work the same way. Many of the instant win games found at retail lottery outlets are also available on official state lottery platforms.

Pennsylvania Instant Win Games

The PA iLottery platform offers more than 50 different instant win games. Plenty of opportunities for big instant payouts await.

The Pennsylvania Keystone Cash instant win game, for example, features a maximum grand prize of $300,000.

Michigan Instant Win Games

The Michigan Lottery offers nearly 100 different instant win games for online purchase. Games like Instant Keno Multiplier and Bullseye Keno carry grand prizes of $500,000.

Is It Safe To Buy Lottery Tickets Online?

State-regulated online lottery platforms offer the chance to purchase online lottery tickets legitimately and legally. Secure purchases for in-state instant win and drawing games, as well as multi-state games like Mega Millions and Powerball, are available at official state lottery online platforms.

Purchasing lottery tickets on these platforms assures the same level of safety as purchasing official state lottery tickets from an approved retail outlet. Players who purchase lottery tickets on state-regulated online lottery platforms can count on prompt and secure payouts on winning tickets.

Is It Safe To Buy Lottery Tickets On Jackpocket?

Jackpocket functions as a third-party online courier for lottery tickets. The Jackpocket app offers purchases for in-state drawing games, as well as national lotteries like Powerball and MegaMillions.

The Jackpocket app operates in eight states. In each of those states is approved and licensed for operation by state lawmakers.

As an officially licensed partner of state and national lotteries, the Jackpocket offers secure purchase and payouts for in-state and national lottery games.

Legal Versus Illegal Online Lottery Sites

Aside from the eight states in which Jackpocket legally operates, the only legal way to purchase lottery tickets online is through official state lottery platforms.

Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, North Carolina, and New Hampshire are currently the only states in which an official state-regulated online lottery platform operates. Any other outlet offering online lottery ticket sales is doing so illegally.

Online lottery purchases for in-state games must be done within state borders at the time of purchase. Any platform offering tickets to out-of-state lottery games (aside from approved national lotteries) is illegal.

Playing on any kind of illegal online gambling site presents a risky proposition. Player funds are not secured by official gaming regulatory bodies, and depositing at an illegal gambling site doesn’t guarantee that the money can later be withdrawn.

Online Lottery FAQ

Is it legal to purchase lottery tickets online in the US?

Yes. Seven states offer official, legal online lottery platforms. These states include Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.

States with official, state-regulated online lottery outlets offer purchase of tickets for in-state drawing and instant win games, as well as multi-state lotteries like MegaMillions and Powerball.

Jackpocket, a legal mobile lottery courier, also offers online lottery purchases in Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, and Washington DC.

Who regulates the sales of lottery tickets in the US?

Individual states operate and regulate the lottery in their respective jurisdictions. A total of 45 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands operate individual lotteries.

Multi-state lotteries like Mega Millions and Powerball are regulated as joint efforts among participating states.

How old do I have to be to purchase online lottery tickets in the US?

The minimum age for purchasing lottery tickets, both retail and online, is 18.

Legal online lottery platforms require proof of identity, age, and location to purchase tickets.

What is a lottery ticket courier service?

Lottery ticket courier services operate as legal, licensed partners to state and national lotteries. Platforms like the Jackpocket app essentially purchase lottery tickets on the player’s behalf.

Jackpocket functions much like the official online lottery platforms offered in some states. Players can deposit funds, purchase tickets, and withdraw winning directly from the Jackpocket app.

Winnings of up to $600 are automatically applied to a player’s balance on Jackpocket. Winnings of more than $600 will result in Jackpocket arranging for secure delivery of the physical winning ticket to the player.

Jackpocket operates legally in Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, and Washington DC. Online lottery purchases made through Jackpocket in these states are as secure as purchasing at an official retail or online state lottery outlet.

What states offer the best Instant Win online lottery games in the US?

The biggest prizes available in online lottery instant win games can reach into the six-figure territory or higher.

A pair of online instant win games offered by the Michigan Lottery carry $500,000 grand prizes. These games include Instant Keno Multiplier and Bullseye Keno, both of which function as instant-win drawing games.

The PA iLottery offers the Pennsylvania Keystone Cash instant win game, with a grand prize of $300,000.

Can non-US residents win the lottery in the US?

Yes. Non-US residents can purchase lottery tickets and win prizes in US-bases lotteries. Players must be 18 or over and have purchased a winning ticket inside the US to be eligible to win.

Purchasing a US-based lottery ticket without being located inside US borders is illegal.

Can US citizens buy lottery tickets for other countries?

Federal law dictates that US citizens cannot legally participate in lotteries outside the US through the mail, internet, or phone.

The only way to legally purchase an international lottery ticket is by visiting a foreign country and making an in-person purchase. Winnings on international lottery ticket purchases are subject to taxation in both the issuing country and the US.

About the Author

Geoff Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.