Which States Allow Online Lottery Purchase?
For some time, the US citizens were severely limited in their ability to buy online lottery tickets.
In fact, they couldn’t do that at all due to the federal regulatory framework. If you live in the US, you’re pretty familiar with it. You also know that for the longest time, going to the local retail agency was the only way to get your tickets.
As of 2011, however, things have started changing for the better. While only a handful of states permit the sale of online lottery tickets, several other parts of the country are experimenting with the opportunity or considering its introduction very shortly.
So, where can you get your online lottery tickets in the US, and are there limitations to that possibility? Let’s take a look at the ways to play lottery online in the USA.
Play Online Lottery USA: The Impact of the Federal Wire Act of 1961
Who would have thought that the government could see into the future! The US government can because in 1961 (before the Internet was first used in 1969), the Wire Act was created. This act prohibited any online gambling (through the use of a wire communication facility).
Because of the ambiguous wordage, states were under the impression they could not conduct in-state lottery transactions through the internet due to the possibilities of the information crossing state lines. Because of this, New York believed the Justice Department might go after New York’s Lottery if the information regarding the tickets that were sold online to New York residents crossed state lines, even for a second.
At the time, New York was experiencing economic woes, and they decided to question the Justice Department’s decision on the matter. In 2009, the New York Lottery and the Illinois governor’s office asked the Justice Department to clarify the stipulations regarding the Wire Act. To make a long story short, the Wire Act did mean sports betting only, and lottery betting was okay.
The Department of Justice released that official clarification in 2011, which paved the way for online lottery ticket sales. As of today, the stipulations in the Federal Wire Act of 1961 are considered applicable solely to sports betting.
It’s also essential to understand that each part of the US is governed by two sets of laws – federal and state laws.
Now that the limitations in the Federal Wire Act have been negated, states have the freedom to pass their local laws that provide guidelines for online lottery ticket sales.
Online Play Lottery USA: Where Is It Legal?
In 2014, Minnesota became the first-ever state to start offering instant-win lotteries online. The Minnesota Lottery launched online sales for a short period, however.
In May 2015, lawmakers in the state decided to make online lotteries illegal once again. All online games were pulled, and they haven’t been renewed ever since.
As of December 2019, you can play the lottery in the USA via a digital channel in six states. These include:
- Georgia: Georgia is the second state in the US to offer online lottery tickets. The Georgia Lottery Corporation provides online sales of tickets for various draw-style games like Mega Millions, Powerball, and Fantasy 5.
- Kentucky: online lottery playing in Kentucky is a thing ever since 2016. Instant games, daily draw-style games, and the more giant lotteries are all available for online play.
- Illinois: this state is a pioneer when it comes to offering lottery tickets for offline games in the online realm. The pilot program was launched in 2012 and has been a thing ever since. As of March 2014, online lottery ticket sales had generated proceeds of more than 36.9 million dollars.
- Michigan: another state to initiate online ticket sales in 2014. Originally, solely scratch-off tickets and Instant Keno tickets were available online, but the scope of possibilities quickly increased.
- New Hampshire: the local rules enabled the organization of online lottery ticket sales in 2017. Both instant win and draw-style ticket purchases are available.
- Pennsylvania: extensive new gambling laws were passed in the state in 2017. Online lotteries and online casinos were made legal as a part of this sizeable local move. Online lottery ticket sales in Pennsylvania were initiated in May 2018.
There’s one crucial thing to keep in mind about these online ticket sales.
Each state has introduced more or less strict restrictions that govern who can play online lottery USA and who can’t.
For the largest part, you have to be a resident of the state, and you need to provide a local address to register for the platform and to start buying tickets online.
Thus, just because you live in the US, and you are in one of the states that still prohibit online purchases doesn’t mean you’ll be capable of buying tickets in another state.
New Possibilities to Play Online Lottery USA
While the six states mentioned above are the only ones to currently allow the online sale of lottery tickets and the playing of instant games, other parts of the country are making some moves to liberalize the market.
As of December 2019, several additional states have passed the needed rules to begin selling lottery tickets online. Ticket sales, however, have not been initiated yet.
These states include:
- New Jersey
Are Online Lottery Agents Available for US Citizens?
As a smart and resourceful person, you may be thinking there’s a way around the restriction.
After all, there are international online lottery agents and internet concierge services that allow the purchase of tickets for a wide array of games, including US opportunities like Powerball and Mega Millions.
Couldn’t Americans who live in parts of the country where online ticket sales aren’t available benefit from the opportunity?
The good and short answer to this question is – yes, you can (*but with a condition*).
What are Online Lottery Agents?
Before moving on to other questions, let’s take a look at what online lottery agents are. If you’re making your first steps in this niche, the chances are that you’re still unfamiliar with the opportunities.
Online lottery agents are platforms that help clients buy lottery tickets for a significant number of international games. Some of the biggest websites represent the most prominent lotteries from the US, Canada, South America, Europe, and Asia.
The online lottery agent has local representatives in each country that the customers have access to lotteries in. The local rep is responsible for purchasing a ticket on behalf of the customer. If you buy a ticket for EuroMillions, for example, the online lottery rep will submit the numerical combination on your behalf. You’ll get a copy of the ticket via email or in your account, which helps you rest assured that the ticket has been bought.
Smaller amounts won through this kind of lottery ticket purchase will be credited directly to your account. If you win a more significant sum or the jackpot, you’ll be contacted by the customer support of the online lottery agent, and you’ll get information about how the amount should be collected.
Can Americans Play International Lotteries?
The services of online lottery agents are open to people from all parts of the world, as long as local regulations don’t prohibit such activities.
People living in the US, however, need to familiarize themselves with the so-called Wire Act of 1961. The Wire Act prohibits all types of online gambling, including the purchase of online lottery tickets. Some states have made amendments and moved away from these restrictive regulations. Local lotteries even have their websites that enable the quick and easy purchase of online tickets.
Luckily, this federal law has started losing some of its power. In 2011, the US court ruled out that the limitations under the Wire Act of 1961 apply solely to sports betting opportunities.
In response to this liberalization correction, various states have introduced their online gaming laws that enable the digital sale of tickets for local games.
When we’re talking about online lottery agencies, however, there’s one more regulatory wrinkle to pay attention to.
The US Postal Inspection Service has issued a warning in which US citizens are prohibited from purchasing online tickets, sharing their personal information, or partaking in digital lotteries that are carried out by mail/email or phone.
The main aim is to protect US citizens from the scams that run rampant in the online realm. If you do a bit of research, you’ll understand just how creative scammers have gotten. There are dozens of “quick and easy” ways to earn money from online lotteries, as long as you pay a processing/money transfer/goodwill/charity fee before the sum is “wired” to you.
Offshore online lottery agents, however, are starting to change all of that. They’re making it possible for US citizens to bypass the regulations that apply to local agents. These websites enable people in the US to purchase tickets for some of the biggest US lotteries that operate in another state and for international lotteries, as well.
Remember, that’s illegal to participate in cross-state lottery propositions that you get by phone or by mail. But then again, 99.9 percent of these propositions are scams, and you shouldn’t respond to them anyway.
Do the Rules Apply to Online Lottery Agents?
Yes, the rules do apply to online lottery agencies because a person will be sharing information or partaking in a lottery via email when doing so.
Many people in the US, however, will find out that their access to such websites is not restricted. So the answer is more or less it depends, and with the liberalization of the market and the introduction of local state laws, things will get even more complicated.
The best policy would be to contact regulatory authorities in your state to find out whether it’s possible to play online lottery via a digital agency or a concierge service.
Chances are, however, that you’re not getting to get much of a clear answer about that situation.
Getting in touch with the support team of the respective website is another opportunity for you to check out what restrictions (if any) apply to you and will keep you from testing your luck in some of the world’s most pronounced and popular games.
A Few Additional Considerations
Not only should you check what local state laws say about online ticket buying (whether for state or international games), you should also keep a couple of other things mind.
It’s a good idea to do a check about the taxation percentage applying to your winnings.
Some states have already stopped taxing lottery prizes. In other places, there could be some taxes. If you’re buying a ticket in a country where lotto taxes apply, as well, you may be subjected to double taxation.
Final Verdict at Playing Mega Millions and Powerball Online in the USA
Things are starting to change for lottery enthusiasts in the US, but there’s still a long way to go.
The vast majority of states still don’t have a regulatory framework aimed at enabling the online sale of local lottery games.
We do hope that the six pioneers and the states that have already passed legal laws will change the world of online gaming in the US for the better.