The lottery is gambling in its purest form. If I had to pick one game to represent the essence of gambling, it would be the lottery. There is nothing that says “gambling” more than buying a lottery ticket, picking your numbers and hoping to get lucky. Not only that, but the lottery promises the biggest jackpots in all of gambling, sometimes reaching into the hundreds of millions.
It wasn’t all that long ago that the only way to play the lottery was to purchase tickets in person. Now, you can buy tickets online and play online lotteries from the comfort of home. That’s right. You can now play almost any drawing from home by visiting any number of online lottery sites and buying real tickets.
There are quite a few websites that offer this service. Here are a couple of lotto sites that collectively serve several million people around the world.
Best Online Lottery Sites
The best online lottery sites provide gamblers with plenty of international lotteries, allowing them to potentially win hundreds of millions. Basically, these sites act as official lottery agents that sell tickets to online gamblers.
This system allows gamblers to participate in official national lotteries from a variety of countries around the world. Game variety is combined with a strong selection of deposit and withdrawal options, player bonuses, international support and trustworthy business practices to provide the most enjoyable lottery gaming experience.
Buying Lottery Tickets Online
Online lottery sites operate on a simple premise. You log in and submit your order, then the lottery site sends out its own agents to purchase actual lottery tickets on your behalf.
They scan your tickets into a mobile app, store them in a safe place with your name and then send you a confirmation e-mail. The lottery website will then notify you if any of your tickets are winners. You can still check on your own tickets, but the online lottery site has its own mechanism for tracking and checking for winners automatically.
For prizes equal to $2500 or less, lottery sites send the money straight to your account. You can then withdraw that money electronically. For prizes greater than $2500, lottery sites show you how to claim your winning prize. In most cases, this involves getting a tax form from your local authorities.
For really big prizes and jackpots, lottery betting sites will attempt to collect your winnings on your behalf and then credit them to your account. In some cases, the lottery site may send your ticket to you so that you can claim the ticket on your own. Remember: your tickets are always scanned with your name printed on them.
One of the great things about buying lottery tickets online is that you get access to a broad range of official lotteries. When you buy tickets at a convenience store, you are restricted to the local lotteries where you reside.
Online sales are different because they can buy online lottery tickets for lotteries around the world. Here are some of the lotteries you have access to (depending on your local laws):
The legal situation is changing pretty fast in the USA in regards to buying lottery tickets online, some states are experimenting with direct online sales and others allow courier services like Jackpocket.
USGambling.com (our sister site) has detailed guides to all state lottery games, including reviews, draws, results, and jackpot trackers.
How We Rate Online Lottery Services
There are quite a few websites that claim to sell lottery tickets online, but many of those sites are restricted to residents of specific countries or states. Others are just sites that report the results of past lotteries. Out of the lottery websites that truly do sell online tickets to people around the world, only a few are worth considering. Here are a few key aspects we consider when rating the best online lottery sites:
- Lottery Coverage: The best lottery sites sell tickets to dozens of lotteries hosted around the world. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons people join lottery websites. The right website gives you access to lotteries that you normally wouldn’t be able to play.
- Trust: This is a big one for obvious reasons. With winning prizes that routinely exceed millions of dollars, it is imperative that you play at a lottery site that has a longstanding reputation for paying out winners.
- Payment Methods: Quality lottery sites make it easy to buy tickets and receive prizes. Credit cards, debit cards and electronic bank transfer options all make it convenient to buy tickets online. If it’s a pain to buy online tickets, you might as well just go to the gas station to buy your own.
- Ease of Use: One reason we play at lottery sites in the first place is for convenience. Quality lottery sites make it easy to sign up, easy to play and easy to claim your winnings. Customer support should also be easily accessible and provide knowledgable answers and solutions.
- Price: This is a BIG one. Reputable lottery websites let you keep 100% of your winnings. The only thing a lottery site should charge you is the original subscription price. Stay far away from lottery websites that keep a percentage of your winnings.
Variations of Online Lotteries
There are several variations of lotteries that you can play online. These variations utilize different gaming rules based on the number of picks that can be made, the odds of winning, the frequency of draws and the prize amounts available. Most online lotteries available operate in one of the following ways:
- Lotto – Allows participants to draw six numbers from a specific range, usually based on 49 or 53 total numbers available. This is the format used in lottery games like the U.K. Lotto and is often played once or twice a week.
- Mini Lotto – Features game rules similar to Lotto but is designed to be played on a more regular basis and provide participants with better odds. This lottery usually allows participants to pick six or seven numbers from a smaller range that often consists of no more than 40 numbers. Draws are held every day or every other day with the chance of winning smaller jackpots usually under $100,000.
- Multi-State or Nation Lottery – These involve lottery organizations that are played in multiple states or nations. This is common practice in the U.S., where the Mega Millions and US Powerball lotteries are available. The game operates similarly to a normal Lotto, allowing participants to draw numbers, but the jackpot is usually worth $100 million or more. This system is also used in the Euro Millions Lotto.
- Instant Lotteries – Offered by top online lottery sites as a quick lottery game variation based on scratch cards. Participants simply purchase a ticket, scratch the covers off and check to see if they have won any lottery prizes.
Players do not need to install and download any form of gaming software to access the lottery game variations mentioned above. Every major lottery can be accessed using a standard Internet browser, even mobile devices. These sites include world wide official lotteries from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Australia and more.
Online Lottery Bonus And Promotional Offers
Welcome bonus offers and signup promotions are not yet common at lottery sites. However, the top online lottery sites do carry a modest range of deposit bonuses and promotions.
Look for online lotteries that provide refunds or discounts after you have purchased your first ticket. Some lottery sites may offer a discount on the next ticket you purchase, while others will refund the cost of your first ticket directly into your account.
Some online lottery websites attempt to promote subscriptions by occasionally offering free tickets.
A subscription keeps you active in all future drawings of a certain lottery game, and some brands like to entice participants to sign up for subscriptions by awarding a free ticket for the 10th or 15th lottery game played.
Additional income can be earned from Refer a Friend promotions, which usually offer bonus cash for each friend that registers for an account and completes a deposit.
Easy Deposit / Fast Payouts
The best lottery sites feature easy to use banking systems designed to allow players to perform instant electronic deposits worth as little as $10. Payouts take longer to process and may incur a small service fee for each withdrawal. Additionally, participants who want to play the lottery online and make their first withdrawal after funding their account with a credit card will usually have to submit a Credit Card Authorization form along with proof of identification.
Support For Your Country / Currency
Specific lottery sites sometimes block participants from certain countries by limiting access to banking methods. Check the site’s banking system to identify banking methods available in your country. If it is unclear if a site supports participants from your country, contact their customer service department for a definitive answer.
The majority of lottery sites use a major currency such as British Pounds, Euros or American dollars. Many credit card, e-wallet and pre-paid card services include currency conversion as an option if you need to convert your funds before submitting a deposit to one of the top lottery sites.
Pros and Cons of Internet Lotteries
The greatest advantage of playing the lottery online is that you can do it from anywhere. Entering lotteries online lets you sit down, consider your selections, and pay at your own pace. There is also convenience in having a website check your tickets for you automatically. If you win, you get an e-mail and sometimes even a phone call letting you know that one of your tickets is a winner.
It’s also nice having help getting paid. Small prizes are sent straight to your lottery account and can then be withdrawn electronically. Lottery sites also have a team in place to help you claim larger, significant prizes. Another benefit is that online lottery websites give you access to lotteries you normally wouldn’t have access to. Ever wanted to play EuroMillions but have no idea how to buy a ticket? No problem, just get a ticket online. And finally, some lottery sites provide syndicate services. These syndicate services team you up with other players and buy tickets to the biggest lotteries around the world. This keeps your costs low while still keeping you in all the biggest online lottery games.
There is just one disadvantage to playing the lottery online: it requires a great degree of trust. No matter how proven a lottery site is, it’s still a little unnerving to NOT have a real, physical lottery ticket to hold onto. That is why it is so important to stick with safe, well-known lottery sites.
Reputation / Trust
Reputable lottery sites use an infrastructure that has been approved by an Internet security specialist and is capable of transferring sensitive personal and financial information through a 128 bit or better digital encryption system.
Quality lottery operators contain an FAQ section that explains how the lottery agent system works and provides information on how to obtain the necessary lottery ticket information to successfully process a jackpot or small prize win. Customer service departments can be contacted via telephone and email to gain assistance with any questions not found in the FAQ section.
Lotto Site Reviews
We have finally gotten around to reviewing the major lottery ticket websites of the world. Just follow the links below for full reviews of major lottery sites.
Mike Murphy is the founder of OnlineBettingSites.com and has over 10 years of experience in the legal online betting industry. A regular attendee of industry trade shows and conferences, Mike is a strong proponent of regulated markets and responsible gambling policies.