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Everything You Need to Know About Playing Online Lotteries
Lotteries enjoy a unique status in the firmament of gambling activities—and make no mistake, it is a form of gambling. The fact that you can buy scratchcards at convenience stores doesn’t change the fact that it is a game of pure chance where you can put down money in the hopes of lucking your way into a lot more money.
How many gambling games, however, get sponsored by city, state, and national governments? Some countries and states ban them wholesale like other forms of gambling; in other jurisdictions, however, all lotteries are illegal—except the state-run lottery.
Regardless, it’s hard to deny the allure of a lottery; for just a few pounds, a sum affordable by even the lowest earners, you become a contender for jackpots that stretch into the thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of pounds.
Even if lotteries are forbidden in your country or limited to state-run national lotteries, you can be sure that online casinos are in the lottery business too, and these are a really good way for new online casinos to pull in a ready audience since many players don’t even think of these as gambling. As a result, you may have access to more lottery opportunities than you think.
Lotteries: A Brief History
The earliest records of lotteries are keno cards dating back to the Han Dynasty in China between 205 and 187 B.C. These may have helped finance the building of the Great Wall of China, among other public works.
Lotteries were popular in the Roman Republic and Empire as party games. Emperor Augustus Caesar, son of Julius, organised the first public sale of tickets in the region to raise funds for Roman public works.
Lotteries were held as early as the 1400s in Western Europe to raise money for charity and the building of fortified city walls. Records from the towns of Bruges, Ghent, and Utrecht indicate that this tradition of lotteries for public works might have been in place for many years.
Regardless, the first recorded lottery is mentioned in a primary source dating back to May 9, 1445, referring to a lottery prize of 1,737 florins (over $170,000 in today’s money) for which over 4,000 tickets were sold. The first Italian lottery dates back to 1449.
Lotteries were regularly held in the Netherlands to raise money from the 17th century on, a method far more popular with the public than taxation. The Dutch Staatsloterij is the oldest lottery in continuous operation to this date. The word itself comes from the Dutch lot, meaning “fate.”
Lotteries also have a darker history, tied to the role of fate in life or death. The drawing of “lots” is often for a dangerous, undesirable, even suicidal task assigned to the drawer of the “short straw.” Shirley Jackson’s classic 1948 short story “The Lottery” concerned a rural village that held a town lottery to select a human sacrifice. Lotteries were also used in the U.S. to randomise the conscription of soldiers in the national military draft during the Vietnam War.
A Brief History of Online Lotteries
When gambling moved online, lotteries became one of the most popular gambling offerings at online casinos. Before the web, people were limited to the local lotteries available in their jurisdiction—potentially no lotteries at all.
Online lotteries not only offered opportunities for people who lived in jurisdictions that had no lotteries, but they also gave players a chance to play a lotto other than their local or state lottery.
A progressive lottery with a buyer base unrestricted by state, county, or national boundaries leads to the potential for much larger participation, resulting in some truly impressive jackpots. Online lotteries include such huge multinational jackpots as Mega Millions, Euro Millions, Mega-Sena, and La Primitiva. Other online lottery offerings include raffles, digital scratch-off instant games, and daily lotteries.
One interesting point about lotteries is that for some reason, people of all nationalities seem to buy into them, somehow believing they can beat the odds and win in a lottery more than they would at a land-based casino on some other game. In reality, it’s all the luck of the draw.
How to Play Online Lotteries: Understanding the Rules
Playing a lottery usually involves purchasing a digital “lotto card” with a series of numbers on it, that you select yourself or in which a random number generator chooses the numbers for you. When the winning numbers are drawn, the lottery operator again then selects numbers through some randomised method. Live lottery drawings usually involve the pure luck of numbered balls spilling out of a tumbler.
Digital drawings may select the winning numbers using a random-number-generating software application. These software apps, in fact, are practically tailor-made for a lottery drawing.
The goal of a basic lottery is to buy a card with as many numbers as possible that match the numbers drawn. The more numbers you match, the more money you win.
The basic process is as follows:
- Register for an account with the online lottery or casino site of your choice. Make sure the site offers service in your jurisdiction—some lottery and gambling sites are restricted in certain countries. Do your homework, as well, on the reputation of the chosen site.
- Select the lottery you wish to play. Depending on the site, you may have access to lotteries across different countries or states. Navigate to the play/purchase site for your chosen lottery.
- Select your lucky numbers. These can usually be any numbers you want within the range. You can bet on your and your spouse’s birthday, the Fibonacci numbers, the digits of Pi, the numbers from Lost, the coordinates from Breaking Bad … there are just no limits! It could even be the birthdays of all your pet hamsters. Well, only you need to know that secret method! Just have fun!
- Watch the draw results and collect your winnings, as fate determines!
Common types of lotteries include:
- Six-number selection, 1-49
- Six-number selection, 1-59
- Six-number selection, 1-90
- Bonus ball
Playing Keno Online
Keno is an ancient form of lottery dating back to China, thousands of years past. It is still popular today at land-based and online casinos alike.
A Keno game is played on a board with a grid of 80 numbered spaces. Rules vary, but players may usually select between 1 and 20 numbers from the grid to bet on. Players then place their bets, and collect winnings based on how many of their selected numbers are drawn at random, based on an established pay table.
To play Keno online:
- Find an online casino that offers a Keno game to your liking, sign up, and deposit funds.
- Pick your numbers.
- Decide how much you want to wager.
- Watch the draw and collect your winnings if your number is selected.
Playing Scratchers Online
Scratchcards have enduring popularity on the lottery scene. You don’t have to wait for a drawing—your fate is decided by the alignment of the printing of the card weeks ago, combined with your decision to walk into that convenience store and buy that particular scratchcard on a whim. Which card the clerk selects for you plays a role as well!
Online casinos often offer “digital scratchers” as a gaming option. It’s a quick and easy way to show a little love to the fates when you have a minute on a work break, commercial break, or to pass the time in line for the bank teller.
To play an online scratcher game, complete the following steps:
- Find an online casino that offers scratcher games you find appealing, sign up, and deposit funds.
- Choose your stake and purchase your scratchcard.
- Click on the “scratch-off” panels to reveal your fate and collect any winnings. We recommend that you take your card home and double-check it again, as doing this out and about could mean a costly distraction!
What are the Advantages of Online Lotteries?
Many people are accustomed to playing lotteries the old-fashioned way—buying paper tickets at authorised outlets and then scanning the news or the radio for the drawing announcement. In the face of well-loved habits, is there any reason to make the switch to online lottery gameplay? What, if anything, makes online lotteries better?
This may or may not matter to players, but paper lottery tickets come into being at the end of a supply chain that incurs substantial overhead. Both the lottery operator and the retailer offering the tickets mark up the ticket prices to compensate for that overhead.
Online lottery operators offer an appealing alternative to paper distribution. Online businesses are notoriously lower in overhead than land-based, paper-intensive, or brick-and-mortar operations. Online lottery providers may be able to bring you your ticket at a discount--although they don’t always.
As lotteries move online and distributors compete over price, expect the tickets to face further downward pressure, while the jackpots themselves face upward pressure, as the operators and retailers require less margin to cover their overhead.
Automated and Centralised
Online lottery retailing creates a centralised and automated repository for the functions of a lottery, which are unlikely to be gummed up by human error, inclement weather, or other acts of God. There’s a chance that the servers could fail or the site crash, but generally speaking, online lotteries are more foolproof and harder to break than their analogue counterparts.
Governments that move their lotteries online enjoy more control over ticket sales, rather than having to rely on tickets sold wholesale to retail outlets such as grocery and convenience stores.
Fair Drawing Methods
Lotteries live or die based on the perception of fairness in the drawing practice. Lottery revenues would crater if the playing public caught wind that the draw was fixed in any way.
Lottery operators go to great lengths to ensure the fairness of the draw and limit the possibility of tampering, even if they use balls in a tumbler. Whether or not RNG software is more or less easy to tamper with is debatable. However, paper lotteries have a built-in unfairness that most players aren’t aware of.
Paper lotteries draw against all tickets sold—and all tickets unsold, skewing the odds further away from the player. Online lotteries, by contrast, have the luxury of only drawing against tickets sold, giving the player a higher chance of winning.
Online lotteries are typically subjected to exacting pre-draw and post-draw audits to ensure their fairness and authenticity. Paper lotteries don’t have to submit to this kind of audit. It’s an extra layer of player protection that players can count on only in an online lottery.
Easy Winning Validation
Players of online lotteries enjoy faster and easier validation of winning tickets, sometimes as soon as the results are announced. Paper lotteries enjoy no kind of centralised electronic validation and require a cumbersome process to confirm a win. Lots of lottery winnings go unclaimed due to the confirmation burden of paper lotteries.
Easy to Understand
Online lotteries are extremely easy to get the hang of, and this is why they are also very popular with young people--setting the required gambling age aside (which varies from country to country), even kids are known to love a lottery, and if they cannot own their own card or virtual card, they almost always help select the numbers.
Are There Tips and Strategies for Online Lotteries?
Lotteries thrive on the elements of chance and luck. They are typically not seen as a game you can really “strategise” for. Part of the appeal is that, without skill or significant risk, any average Joe can become a big winner—possibly even a multi-millionaire! It all depends on a randomised draw and the favour of Lady Luck.
That being said, certain tactics can help increase the likelihood of a win, or at least even the odds. Many players make errors that actually decrease the likelihood of a win--they can certainly add these to their list of biggest gambling mistakes! Understanding these pitfalls and learning to avoid them gives you the best possible chance to emerge a winner in the lottery.
Purchase Multiple Tickets
If you can afford it, consider upping your chances of winning by buying more than one ticket. The more tickets you buy, the more winning numbers you have on hand. Just make sure not to repeat numbers. If it gets picked, you could win twice as much … but varying your numbers gives you a much better chance that you will win something.
Want the Best Chances? Pick the Right Game.
Many online lotteries post their odds. You can use this data to your advantage by picking the online lottery that offers you the best chance to win. These are often lotteries with smaller jackpots … but if the goal is to slug the odds of a win in your favor, lotteries with better odds are the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re only playing the lottery for a chance to become filthy rich on a long-odds jackpot win, patience is your only play.
Look for Lotteries with Second-Chance Drawings
Another thing to look for when selecting a lottery to play is whether or not the lottery offers a second-chance drawing. It is really hard to pick six numbers out of ninety and guess two of them or even one of them right, to say nothing of all six. A second-chance drawing gives you an extra chance to win on the same ticket.
Pick Numbers Strategically
It may seem like any one number is as good as another, but that’s actually not the case. The luck of the draw may be random, but human psychology is not. Many people bet their birthdays … meaning a disproportionate number of lottery picks tend to range between 1 and 12; 1 and 31. If you pick numbers larger than 31, your chances of winning are no better; but you have a better chance of winning a jackpot that you will not end up having to share with another winner.
Are Online Lotteries Legal?
Online lotteries enjoy an interesting and complicated legal status, as is the case in much of the internet. In many ways, the internet is the Wild West. Outcomes depend less on what is “illegal” and more on what the governing jurisdictions can bring about.
Lotteries, whether state-run or privately-run, typically operate in a jurisdiction where they are legal. Mega Millions is authorised by the US government, EuroMillions by the EU, etc. Non-state lotteries and casino lotteries may be operated out of jurisdictions with permissive gambling laws, like Cyprus, Curacao, or the Kahnawake Nation. These are where the companies that run these lotteries both headquarter and house the servers that power the websites.
The funny thing about the internet, though, is that it recognises no state lines or nationalities. It runs through a network of fibre optic cables and satellite signals meant to unite the world. This helps unite the global economy … but also presents a challenge for jurisdictions that wish to restrict the online behaviours of their citizenry.
Basically, you could live in a jurisdiction where playing a lottery is illegal … but the government may be unlikely to catch you and very unlikely to prosecute you, similar to how hard it was to prosecute people for file-sharing music, movies, and software by torrent in violation of the licence.
A government may try to block access to a disallowed site, but this is usually easy to get around if the user logs on through a virtual private network (VPN), which disguises the internet usage and in some cases even displaces the source to a different country.
If the online casino or site self-polices to comply with laws, that’s a different story. For example, online casinos in New Jersey require you to enable GPS tracking on your device before you can access the casino, protecting their licence in the face of strict regulations requiring players to be physically located in the state of New Jersey.
Few games can claim the kind of longevity of a lottery, with some popular online lottery games tracing their origins to before the birth of Jesus. Other national lotteries have been in continuous operation for hundreds of years.
Regardless of tradition, lotteries have a permanent place in the public imagination for their propensity to turn ordinary men and women into filthy-rich men and women. The move of lotteries online and across jurisdictions only stands to increase the appeal of lotteries, across generations and across borders.