The lottery industry in the United States continues to grow each year, with Americans spending over $77 billion on the lottery in 2018. There seems to be no end in sight, as 2019 is expected to shatter the record mark set in 2018.
The United States can actually trace the lottery back to the early days when King James used the lottery as a way to fund Jamestown, Va. The first modern form of the lottery began in 1934 when Puerto Rico established the first-ever government-run lottery system. Puerto Rico seemingly paved the way for the current lottery system in the United States, but it took some time for it to catch on.
New Hampshire was the first state to establish its own lottery in the United States, officially launching it in 1964. Scratch-off lottery tickets came around in the 1970s and were very similar to the ones that are currently in production today.
New Hampshire joined forces with Maine and Vermont to offer the first multi-state lottery game in 1985. These states formed the Tri-State Megabucks lottery, which is still in play to this day.
The Powerball was established in 1988 but was originally introduced under the name, Lotto America. Mega Millions didn’t come around until 1996 and was originally called “The Big Game.”
Today, a lot of lottery sales are made online, but that wasn’t introduced until 2012 in the state of Illinois. The lottery has gone through many changes throughout the years but continues to grow in popularity and revenue as the years go on.
Major Lotteries in the United States
Mega Millions: Mega Millions is one of the two major lotteries currently offered in the United States and continues to grow with each passing day. The first Mega Millions drawing was held on May 17, 2002, and it is currently drawn on Tuesday and Friday evenings at 11 pm Eastern Time.
Mega Millions is currently offered in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each ticket or “play” in the Mega Millions game costs $2 unless you are playing the Megaplier. The only state that doesn’t offer the Megaplier is the state of California, and that costs $3 per play. The largest jackpot in Mega Millions history was $1.537 billion, which was awarded on October 23, 2018.
Powerball: Powerball is the other major lottery in the United States, and it has been around a lot longer than the Mega Millions game. The first Powerball drawing was held on April 19, 1992, and it is currently held on Wednesday and Saturday evenings at 10:59 pm Eastern Time.
Each play costs $2, but there is an option to use the Power Play that costs an additional dollar. The largest jackpot in Powerball history was $1.586 billion, which was split between three winning tickets. The largest jackpot in history was awarded during the drawing held on January 13, 2016.
Rules Vary By State
Each state has different rules and regulations regarding the lottery, and some states have chosen not to legalize it altogether. There are currently five states that have not legalized the lottery: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. Twelve states have taken the next step and now offer online lottery sales. These twelve states are Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Each state is free to do what it wants with its take from the lottery, and every state sets its own tax rate. Most of the states use this money for education or infrastructure purposes, but that isn’t always the case. Most states require you to be at least 18 years of age to play in the state lottery, but some states have raised the minimum age to 21.
The state of Illinois is one of the few states that offers a downloadable mobile app for lottery purchases. Anyone wanting to buy an online lottery ticket in Illinois must have an account that shows proof of residence in the state. Visitors passing through the Land of Lincoln can purchase a lottery ticket at any one of over 7,000 retail locations throughout the state.
New York has set the legal age to purchase a lottery ticket at 18 unless a ticket is being purchased in an establishment where alcohol is sold. In that case, the legal age to buy a lottery ticket is raised to 21.
Florida is one of the states that does not offer online lottery sales, but it does have over 13,000 licensed retailers throughout the Sunshine State. The legal age to play in the Florida lottery is 18, and all winnings up to $599.99 can be claimed at any retailer in the state.