The Ultimate Guide To American Lotteries

American lottery guide

If you didn’t already know, US lotteries are renown for offering players some of the biggest lottery prizes on the planet. In addition to fan favourites like US Powerball and Mega Millions, the United States also offers a myriad of rewarding state lotteries that often go under the radar of international lottery players. Keep reading to learn all about American lotteries and how you can play some of them online at theLotter!


Which American Lottery Has the Biggest Starting Jackpot?

Powerball and Mega Millions top the charts by each offering players starting jackpots of $40 million. These is also the biggest starting jackpots in the world. For state lotteries, California Superlotto wins with its $7 million starting top prize, while Lotto Texas comes in second place at $5 million. The reason why multi-state lotteries can have such big prizes based on the simple fact that they have millions of more people across numerous states buying their lottery tickets.

What Are the Biggest American Jackpot Prizes?

Biggest US Lottery Jackpots

A $1.586 billion jackpot awarded by US Powerball in 2016 is currently the largest top prize in America. This lottery powerhouse has awarded 7 of the top 10 biggest jackpots in American lottery history, with the remaining three belonging to runner-up lottery Mega Millions. In fact, all 50 of the biggest American jackpots were paid out by these two lottery giants. While the Powerball holds the title to the biggest recorded prize in the world to date, the $1.586 billion Mega Millions top prize awarded in 2018 is the largest lottery prize ever claimed by a single ticket.

What Types Of Lotteries Are Available In The United States?

In the US, lotteries are split between state lotteries and multi-jurisdictional lottery games. What’s the difference? State lottery games are only available to play and be claimed within the given state’s borders. For example, Texas has several state lotteries that are available for participation within Texas’ borders only, including games like Texas Two-Step, Cash Five, and Lotto Texas Extra. These games usually have smaller prizes, and therefore better odds of winning them.

Multi-jurisdictional lotteries are lotteries which are available in several states. These games were established by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL); an American government non-profit association created to operate lotteries across US states. By allowing lotteries to sell tickets in numerous states, the MUSL was able to accumulate much bigger prizes than any state lottery could, the most famous being Powerball and Mega Millions.

The Biggest US Multi-Jurisdictional Lotteries:

Lottery Range Odds of Winning the jackpot Draw Time


5/69 + 1/26


Saturday and Wednesday at 22:59 et

Mega Millions

1/70 + 1/25


Tuesday and Friday at 23:00 ET

Lotto America



Wednesday and Saturday at 11 p.m. ET/10 p.m. CT


5/60 + 1/4


Sunday through Saturday at 21:00 ET

Lucky for Life

5/48 + 1/18


Mondays and Thursdays at 22:38 ET

All or Nothing



Mondays through Saturdays at 10:00, 12:27, 18:00, and 22:12 CT

Can Foreigners Play American Lotteries?

Can foreigners play American lotteries?

Yes! As long as you’re purchasing your lottery ticket within state borders, you’re good to go. So if you’re on vacation or travelling to the United States for work, you can feel free to purchase a Powerball lottery ticket if you happen to be in a participating state. And you can play Mega Millions if you're not a US citizen. If you want to play consistently or you’re not boarding a plane any time soon, your other option is playing lotteries online.

How to Play American Lotteries Online

So, how does it work? Simply select your lottery agency, enter your numbers, purchase your ticket, and wait to see if you’ve won. At theLotter, local offices across several US states allow our agents to purchase official lottery tickets on your behalf, after which you will receive a scan of your official ticket. This will act as proof of ownership and participation in the official draw.

How to Win US Lottery Prizes Online

With modern technology, winning and claiming a prize from America from abroad is not as complicated as it sounds! If you match any non-jackpot prize, the money will be transferred straight to your account on theLotter for withdrawal after receipt from a lottery operator. Jackpot prizes are required to be collected in person. In this case, theLotter may elect to provide the winner with a flight to the United States and a lawyer, free of charge, to assist in the prize collection process.

When you win a jackpot prize playing Mega Millions, you will need to decide whether to take a one-time cash payment of your prize or whether to receive it in annual payments. You would also need to choose how to receive your Powerball jackpot either as an annuity or a cash payment.

Are US Lotteries Taxed?

Are American lotteries taxed

Unlike most European lotteries, winnings from US lotteries are subject to Federal taxation and are automatically reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if the win is $600 or more. For non-US residents, the tax-withholding rate is set at 30%. In addition to federal taxes, some jurisdictions may also levy taxes. It’s also important to note that you may incur local taxation in your country of residence. Check out the tax page to see if your lottery winnings will be taxed.

See how the American lotteries available to play online on the theLotter are taxed:


Tax Band Amount

Tax Band 1

Tax-free up to $599.99

Tax Band 2

Any prize between $600 and $1,499.99 is subject to a tax rate of 30% for non-residents.

Tax Band 3

Any prize above $1,500 is subject to a tax rate of 38% for non-residents.

Mega Millions

Tax Band Amount

Tax Band 1

Tax-free up to $599.99

Tax Band 2

Any prize between $600 and $4,999.99 is subject to a tax rate of 30% for non-residents.

Tax Band 3

Any prize above $5,000 is subject to a tax rate of 38.82% for non-residents.


Tax Band Amount

Tax Band 1

Tax-free up to $600.

Tax Band 2

Any prize between $600.01 and $5,000 is subject to a tax rate of 30%.

Tax Band 3

Any prize above $5,000 is subject to a tax rate of 36%.

Texas Lotteries

Tax Band Amount

Tax Band 1

Tax-free up to $599.99.

Tax Band 2

Any prize over $600 is subject to a tax rate of 30% for non-residents.

The History of Lotteries in America

American Lottery history

Lotteries have been played in America since the country’s colonial period when private citizens and public officials held lotteries in the North American British colonies offering winners, not just monetary prizes, but also houses, land, slaves, animals and other items that were of value to colonists. These lotteries were usually held to aid the development of the colonies and private projects.

The first official lottery in the Americas was held in 1616 by The Virginia Company of London to raise money for the colonial venture chartered by King Charles. These lotteries helped establish and financially support Jamestown, Virginia- the first permanent settlement in America. Eventually, all 13 original colonies also established their own lotteries to raise revenue and subsequently, playing the lottery became seen as a civic responsibility. Later, lotteries were used to fund all sorts of public and private endeavours. Lottery proceeds were used to establish churches, libraries, and help to establish some of the America’s first and most prestigious universities like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Princeton.

During the 1800s, gambling, and specifically lotteries, came under fire and were banned from most states on moral religious grounds, various scandals, and the belief that lotteries were targeting the poor. But, the people wanted their lotteries! This created a booming industry of illegal lotteries that lasted until 1934 when the first modern government-run lottery was established in Puerto Rico. Three decades later in 1964, the first state lottery was established in New Hampshire and many other states soon followed suit.

Following the success of state-run lotteries, several of them, more specifically Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, banded together in 1985 to create the nation’s first multi-state lottery game, Tri-State Megabucks. In 1988, the Multi-State Lottery Association, or MUSL, was chartered by Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia and went on to create the world’s biggest lotteries Powerball in 1992, and Mega Millions in 1996.

Today, 45 out of 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands offer lotteries.

Until recently, you had to be physically in the United States to participate American lottery games. Now, ticket purchasing services like theLotter offer players the chance to enter US lottery draws from anywhere in the world! You can now buy lottery tickets online and play to win millions in your favourite American draws. Learn more about some of the popular US lotteries you can play online with our essential Mega Millions Lottery Guide and our Ultimate Guide To Playing Powerball.

Feel like going abroad? Hop across the pond and read all about Spanish lotteries or go to the far east with our Japanese Lottery Play Guide!