Online Lotteries Guide


Online lotteries are very different from other forms of online gambling such as poker, casino games, and bingo because the games are run by governments instead of private businesses. The situation was somewhat different in the early days of online gambling industry, as many lottery sites were run by individuals or companies.

However, the monopoly on the live lottery market and the possibility of generating massive, taxable cash flows led many governments to pass new laws and regulations that gave their lotteries greater protection or simply outlaw private enterprises in this field. Lottery players have no reasons to fear prosecution, at least as long as they stick to official, state-licensed websites. On the other hand, most of the so-called private lottery sites amount to nothing more than blatant scam attempts these days, which makes looking for lottery games a rather risky business unless you know what you’re doing.

How Online Lotteries Work

Online lottery sites aren’t separate entities – in most cases, they simply allow you to buy tickets for popular live lottery games, such as Lotto or Powerball. You won’t be dealing with a separate, online-only player pool, which means that you’ll be able to take advantage of the massive prizes and jackpots that make live lotteries so popular.

You have to keep in mind that each country or even region is more than likely to have its own set of online lottery regulations, which means that the rules, banking methods, prices, and game selection will differ from site to site. If you don’t want to deal with those regulations, your only option would be to rely on one of the numerous third party websites that allow you to purchase live lottery tickets from all over the world via one of their local offices.

In such a case, the company basically acts as a proxy between you and the government that actually holds the lottery. As you’d expect, those deals are fairly risky, which means that you should always stick to reputable proxy lottery services or simply limit your purchases to the aforementioned government-licensed lottery sites.

Fairness and Security

All the official government lottery sites are 100% safe to use, but they have a rather serious drawback – players are almost always required to be physically located in the country that hosts the games when making a purchase or funding their account. If you fail to meet those requirements, your tickets will be declared invalid and no prizes will be paid. Proxy lottery websites bypass this problem by making the purchase for you and promising to send you the money if you manage to score a win.

However, you have to remember that if you opt to use this kind of service, you won’t be protected by the government hosting the lottery, as technically speaking another person will be playing the games using your cash. Consequently, if you really have to use unlicensed third-party websites to purchase your tickets, I’d advise sticking with the ones that have been in the business for a long time and allow you to view scans of the lottery tickets they’ve bought in your name.

Tickets and Prizes

Online lottery sites are no different from brick-and-mortar distribution points when it comes to ticket prices, which means that everything depends on the specific lottery game you want to join. Consequently, in most cases the price of a single ticket will usually amount to less than $15, but you have to keep in mind that third party sites will require you to pay slightly more to cover the costs of their operations and turn a profit. The prizes generally follow the same rules – the government-licensed sites won’t require you to pay any additional fees. Proxy lottery services on the other hand might claim up to 10% of your payout, depending on the amount you won and the terms and conditions specific to the particular site you used.

Making a Payment

Most of the official lottery websites won’t give you all that many banking options to choose from, as usually you’ll have to pick between funding each ticket with your bank account or transferring a larger amount of money to your on-site wallet. The latter method is very similar to funding your account on a poker or casino site, but obviously there won’t be any bonuses involved. On the other hand, third-party sites require you to make a traditional deposit and might tempt you with their welcome promotions, which are generally a 100% or 150% match on your first payment, but rarely allow you to grab more than $100.

Other popular promotions include buy one, get one free deals for new customers, or discounts on multi-draw packages. Furthermore, proxy lottery sites usually offer numerous payment options, which include all the popular e-wallet services like Neteller, as well as Visa/MasterCard credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards or even JCB, WebMoney, and GiroPay. However, please note that the availability of these methods is dependent on your area of residence, which means that e-wallet payments aren’t available to American players.

Receiving Your Payout

The way official lottery sites will handle your payout depends on the payment method you picked and the amount of money you won. Generally speaking, wins up to $500 will be paid directly to your bank account or the on-site account, while wins between $501 and $5,000 inclusive will either be transferred to your bank account or paid by check. Wins over $5,000 are usually handled exclusively via check, while payouts that exceed $50,000 will require you to contact the organizers in order to arrange for claiming the prize in person.

As you’ve probably already guessed, third-party sites operate in a different manner, as their local staff claims the winnings in your place and transfers them to your on-site account. Consequently, getting a hold of your money requires you to wait and file a traditional withdrawal request, but please note that most proxy lottery sites don’t have the liquidity to process wins in excess of $5,000 like that.

As a result, if you managed to score big, you’ll be contacted by customer support to arrange for a more personalized payout. The available banking methods are similar to the ones used for making a deposit, but please note that as usual, American customers have limited options to choose from, which means that they’ll generally have to rely on a bank wire transfer, which may take up to ten days.

Official Online Lottery Ticket Sales by Region

Unlike online poker or casino gambling, online lotteries haven’t managed to break out of the national borders due to government interventionism, so there are no reliable sites that give you access to a global player pool. As briefly touched on above, this means that the specific regulations and the availability of certain games tends to differ from site to site. Below, you will find a brief rundown of the countries that host noteworthy lottery games, as well as a short review of the possible ways of joining the action over the internet.

United States

Despite infamous strict anti-gambling regulations, lottery games are fairly popular in the US, as they provide many states with a valuable source of income. However, there are no lotteries organized on the federal level, which means that players have to look to their respective states for a chance to gamble some of their hard-earned money.

Most states offer a lottery that can be accessed by its residents as long as they’re staying within their physical borders. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean online lotteries are readily available for all the United States citizens. Until recently the Department of Justice claimed that the federal Wire Act of 1961 prohibited all sorts of online gambling.

However, this policy has been reversed in the opening months of 2013, as it became apparent that many states have been strapped for cash for quite some time. As of today the only states that managed to launch their official online lotteries are Georgia and Illinois, but this list is very likely to expand in the months to come as even the most restrictive states like Vermont have been experimenting with the idea of introducing online ticket sales to improve their financial situation.

Canada

Much like in the case of the United States, buying your lottery tickets online has become a recent possibility for some of the Canadian residents. Consequently, lottery enthusiasts in Quebec are free to purchase their tickets on licensed websites like lotoquebec.com, which allows them to compete for the jackpots in Lotto Max, Lotto 6/49, Lotto Poker or Quebec Max and Quebec 49.

However, please note that this is a fairly recent development, which means that not every region online ticket sales aren’t available in every province and territory thus far. As a result, many Canadians are forced to choose between waiting for their local governments to adjust to the recent developments and buying their tickets through one of the numerous third-party sites.

Australia

Australian lotteries are very different from the lotteries available in the other parts of the world, as they don’t require all participants to be physically present within the borders of the country to take part in any draws. Online ticket sales are handled by Oz Lotteries, which is an exclusive distributor of online lottery products for NSW Lotteries, Tattersalls, and SA Lotteries. The available games include Oz Lotto, Powerball, The Pools, Saturday X Lotto, Monday/Wednesday X Lotto and more.

Unlike the other third-party lottery services, Oz Lotteries is a regulated website that operates under strict government supervision, which means that you won’t have to worry about being able to claim your payout. In fact, Oz Lotteries guarantees that every game will be automatically registered in your name.

The site will notify you of every lottery win and automatically deposit the money to your on-site account. No tax will be levied on your winnings in Australia, but keep in mind that you might be required to pay local taxes depending on your local gambling laws. Finally, please note that while small wins will be deposited to your account within 24 hours of the draw, major wins might take up to 23 days.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is an extremely gambling-friendly country, so it should come as no surprise that buying your lottery tickets online isn’t much of a problem. The best way to get some action in the UK is to play in the National Lottery, which is operated by the Camelot Group and which attracts about 70% of the adult population of the country with each draw.

The tickets for the National Lottery can be bought at national-lottery.co.uk, but please note that all players have to be physically present in the UK or Isle of Man when making the purchase in order to receive a payout. Playing lottery games online requires your debit card to be linked to a UK or Isle of Man bank account. The available lotteries include the EuroMillions along with the UK Millionaire Raffle, Thunderball, Lotto and Lotto HotPicks.

Purchasing Your Lottery Tickets Via Third-Party Websites

As mentioned above, joining the games by using one of the numerous online ticket concierge services is inherently risky, but once you manage to find a reliable site, you’ll be able to take a shot at winning in lotteries as different as EuroMillions, Austrian Lotto, Californian SuperLotto, Italian SuperEnalotto, Swedish Viking Lotto, and American Mega Millions.

Most of the quality third-party lottery sites allow you to access the results and estimated jackpots as soon as the information becomes available online, which means that you won’t be forced to waste any time by browsing all the official lottery sites yourself. If you become one of the lucky winners, most third-party lottery sites will notify you via e-mail and provide you with all the information you’ll need to arrange for a payout. Below, you will find a short list of tried and tested third-party websites that allow you to purchase lottery tickets through one of their agents.

1. TheLotter

TheLotter offers one of the best and most reliable lottery services available anywhere on the web. Established in 1996, the site gives you access to more than 60 major lotteries all over the world and has plenty of offices, located mainly in the United States and Europe. The available promotions include a buy one, get one free offer, as well as neat $25 refer a friend program.

TheLotter has no qualms about accepting US-based players and offers 24/7 customer support via phone and e-mail. The site uses SSL 128-bit encryption to protect your personal and financial information and allows you to view the scans of the lottery tickets you bought, which means that all transactions are 100% safe. The available deposit options include Visa, MasterCard, Neteller and more, but keep in mind that withdrawals are almost always handled via a bank wire transfer, especially if you winnings exceed $2,500.

2. PlayHugeLottos

PlayHugeLottos prides itself in providing one of the safest ticket purchasing services since 1998 and gives you access to 15 lotteries from all over the world, including US Powerball, EuroJackpot, LaPrimitiva, ElGordo, LoteriaNacionalExtra, MegaSena, and more. Despite the fact that PlayHugeLottos doesn’t allow its customers to view the scans of the tickets they purchased, the site is safe to play on and offers quick, reliable cash outs.

The site guarantees that your personal and financial information will remain safe by using a 256-bit cipher encryption form RapidSSI, which makes it pretty much impervious to any potential hacking attempts. The available payment methods include Visa, MasterCard, Neteller, Skrill, uKash, PayU, and iCheque, among others. Withdrawals are usually handled via a bank wire transfer or a check by courier, but Neteller/Skrill payouts are also available. However, please note that in order to comply with banking regulations, PlayHugeLottos doesn’t pay any winnings to credit cards.

3. WinTrillions

WinTrillions boasts being the largest lottery site available anywhere on the web and allows you to play 22 lottery games from all over the world, which include the Brazilian Mega Sena, UK Thunderball, UK National Lottery, German Lotto, Florida Lotto, French Lotto, Irish Lotto, Oz Lotto, and EuroMillions, among others. The available promotions include a VIP Loyalty Program that allows you to accumulate VIP points, which can be exchanged for cash, a refer a friend program and a unique WinTrillions Gift Vouchers program that allows you to share the experience with your family and friends.

WinTrillions accepts American players and supports numerous ways of funding your account, such as American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Western Union, uKash, and MoneyBookers. Just like TheLotter, WinTrillions allows you to view the scans of every single lottery ticket you bought. Even better, the company utilizes cutting edge encryption and anti-virus technology to ensure that all the sensible information you provide remains safe at all times.