The Ultimate Guide To American Lotteries

If you didn’t already know, US lotteries are known worldwide 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 exciting state lotteries, like the Lone Star state's Lotto Texas that often go under the radar of international lottery players. Keep reading to learn all about American lotteries and how you can play several 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 $20 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 American lottery jackpots

Powerball has produced two of the biggest jackpots in the world, which include a $2.04 billion top prize in November 2022, a $1.765 billion jackpot awarded in October 2023, and a $1.586 billion jackpot in 2016. In fourth place comes a $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot, which was awarded in 2018 to a single winning 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. Because multi-jurisdictional lotteries are available in more than one state, they are able to sell more tickets, and as a result, they are able to offer higher prizes. The most well-known multi-jurisdictional lotteries are Powerball and Mega Millions.

The Biggest US Multi-Jurisdictional Lotteries:

Lottery Range Jackpot Odds Draw Time


5/69 + 1/26


Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 22:59 ET

Mega Millions

1/70 + 1/25


Tuesday and Friday at 23:00 ET

Lotto America



Wednesday and Saturday at 23:00 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

Note: Although Powerball and Mega Millions are offered in all American states, the other lotteries listed above are only available in select markets.

Can Foreigners Play American Lotteries?

Can foreigners play US lotteries

Yes! As long as you purchase a 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, even 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 Do You Play American Lotteries Online?

So, how does it work? Simply select your lottery, 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 state income tax and federal taxation, which is automatically reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if the win is $600 or more. In addition to these two taxes on US lottery winnings, some jurisdictions may also levy taxes. For non-US residents, the tax-withholding rate is set at 30%. 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 different American lotteries 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.

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 days. During that time, private citizens and public officials staged lotteries 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 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 endeavors. 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, which launched as The Big Game 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 buy lottery tickets online and play for a chance 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 US Powerball.

Feel like travelling? Head up to Canada to play the popular Lotto 6/49 draw, or go south of the border and try Chile's Clasico Loto and the Mexican Melate . You can also hop across the pond and read all about Spanish lotteries or fly to the far east with our Japanese Lottery Guide!