Illinois became the first state to legalize online lottery sales in 2012 for state residents 18 or older and physically present in Illinois at the time of purchase. Today, the Illinois Online Lottery sells tickets for the major drawing games including: Mega Millions, Powerball, Lotto, Lucky Day Lotto, Pick 3 and Pick 4.
Prior to launching online ticket sales, opponents expressed concern that online sales would lead to increased risk of gambling addiction due to the ease of purchasing tickets. However, lottery officials allayed these concerns at the time by stating that online ticket sales and spending habits can be tracked to more easily identify signs of problem gambling.
Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones added:
“They’re conflating forms of gambling. Lotteries are a very, very different form of gambling because of their nature. You risk a small amount of money against very long odds. We don’t offer the kind of action that’s usually associated with addictive behavior.”
However, these concerns did lead to the Illinois Lottery granting a concession: online lottery customers are limited to a maximum daily purchase limit of $150, maximum weekly purchase of $1,050 and maximum monthly purchase of $3,500.
Illinois Online Lottery Games
The Illinois Online Lottery is limited to offering tickets to draw games. Unlike some other state lotteries that have since taken their games online, the Illinois Lottery does not offer instant-win scratch card games.
Currently, the Illinois Lottery offers tickets to the following games online:
- Mega Millions: $2 per play
- Powerball: $2 per play
- Lotto: $1 per play
- Lucky Day Lotto: $1 per play
- Pick 3: $1 per play
- Pick 4: $1 per play
How to Buy Illinois Lottery Tickets Online
You can buy tickets online from your desktop or mobile device when you’re physically present in Illinois by heading to illinoislottery.com or by downloading the official mobile app for iOS and Android devices. In both cases, you’ll be asked to sign up for an account and provide your name, date of birth, address and phone number.
From the main website, tap “Play Now” to see a list of draw games available for play:
Select “play now” or “subscribe” next to the name of the game you want to play and that will take you to a second screen where you can choose your numbers, select a number of tickets to buy and in how many drawings you’d like to enter those tickets:
Note that you can choose any combination of number of tickets and number of drawings. For example, you can buy one Powerball ticket into a single drawing for $2.00 or you can buy 5 tickets into each of the next 5 drawings for $50. The only limit is that you can only purchase up to $150 worth of tickets in a single day.
Powerball and Mega Millions tickets can be bought individually or for up to 20 drawings in advance. Illinois Lotto tickets may also be purchased individually or for up to 25 drawings in advance.
Pick 3 and Pick 4 tickets can only bought as subscriptions lasting from 1 week (14 drawings) to 5 weeks (70 drawings) at a cost of $1 per play.
The minimum online purchase is $5.00.
Illinois Lottery Results
All tickets purchased online are saved to your account, allowing you to log in any time to see if you’ve won. The Illinois Lottery website and mobile app with both notify you if you’ve won. Additionally, you can visit the Daily Results page for the latest winning numbers to manually check your tickets.
Banking and Payment Options
Once you have set up an account with the Illinois Online Lottery, you can fund it with Visa, Mastercard or Discover credit and debit cards. Additionally, any winnings that have been deposited to your account may also be used to make purchases.
Winnings of $600 or less are deposited directly to your online account. From there, you may withdraw the funds to your checking or savings account, or have the Illinois Lottery mail you a check.
If you win a prize greater than $600 and less than $1 million, you have two options:
- Fill out a claim form and mail it along with the signed ticket to Lottery Central in Illinois
- Visit a designated claim center (see locations here) for immediate payouts of prizes up to $25,000
- If the prize is greater than $25,000 and less than $1 million, the prize center will mail your claim form and ticket to the lottery’s central office in Springfield
If you win a prize of $1 million or more:
- Call the Illinois Lottery Central Claims Office at 217-524-5147 for help.
How the Illinois Online Lottery Led to the Legalization of Online Gambling in the US
The Illinois Online Lottery has an interesting backstory that is closely intertwined with the legalization of online gambling in the United States at the federal level. If it wasn’t for Illinois Lottery officials looking for new ways to increase sales, the entire landscape of online gaming would look significantly different today.
The story dates back to 2009, when the Illinois Lottery was mulling over the possibility of selling tickets online. At the time, there was no precedent and they weren’t even sure if federal law would allow online lottery games. The Federal Wire Act was of particular concern because for the previous 40 years, the Wire Act was interpreted to prevent the interstate transmission of communications related to sports betting “and other forms of interstate gambling.”
Undeterred, officials with the Illinois and New York lotteries sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking for clarification: does the federal Wire Act apply to state-authorized lotteries?
In 2011, the Department of Justice issued a memo with wide-ranging implications beyond just the lottery. The 13-page memo concluded:
“…interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a “sporting event or contest,” 18 U.S.C. § 1084(a), fall outside of the reach of the Wire Act.”
With this, the Department of Justice didn’t just OK the Illinois Lottery’s plan; it also opened the door to online gambling and poker. Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada moved quickly to legalize these forms of online gaming, and other states have since followed suit. Additional states have also legalized online lotteries of their own in the intervening years since that important DOJ decision.
A straightforward Illinois Online Lottery review that details what to expect as a player. We discuss the pros and cons, gaming options and overall quality.
Illinois Online Lottery
Illinois became the first state to offer legal online lottery ticket sales when it started a pilot program selling Lotto and Mega Millions tickets online in March 2012. The program has since expanded to include daily lottery games and extended indefinitely beyond its original four-year mandate.
Learn more about Illinois’ legal online lottery, the games you can play, and answers to commonly asked questions about playing the lottery online.
What is an Illinois Lottery online account?
In order to purchase online lottery products in Illinois, you must first register for an Illinois Lottery online account.
Illinois Lottery online account holders can purchase subscriptions to certain lottery games. The subscriptions are for anywhere from 1 to 25 games. With an Illinois Lottery online account, players can also view their history of purchases and wins.
Plus, winnings of up to $600 will be deposited into their account for immediate access. Account holders will also get email notification of wins and be able to manage personal spending limits.
What games can I play online in the Illinois Lottery?
There are two types of lottery games available online in Illinois. These include:
- Jackpot games
- Daily games
The Illinois Lottery officially started online sales of jackpot games in March 2012. It started with two games but quickly expanded to four. The jackpot games available online in Illinois now include:
- Mega Millions
- Lucky Day Lotto
Powerball is among the most popular multi-state lottery games available in the US. The multi-state draw game is available in 44 states, Washington, D.C., US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
Jackpots start at $40 million. Tickets are $2 each. Draws are held on Wednesday and Saturday. Powerball is known for its massive jackpots. The largest ever recorded was $1.6 billion in 2016.
The Mega Millions multi-state lottery began as “The Big Game” in 1996. It was renamed The Big Game Mega Millions six years later. It has been known as Mega Millions since 2002.
Mega Millions is now offered in 44 states, Washington, D.C., and the US Virgin Islands. Tickets are $1. Jackpots start at $40 million. Draws are held Tuesdays and Fridays.
Lotto is an Illinois-only multimillion dollar jackpot game. Players pick six numbers from 1 to 52. Jackpots start at $2 million, and tickets are $1. Draws are held Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. A $1 Extra Shot is available for a chance to win additional prizes.
Lucky Day Lotto is an Illinois-only jackpot game with two daily drawings. Players pick five numbers from 1 through 45. Tickets are $1. Jackpots start at $100,000. A $1 EZmatch option is available for the chance to win up to $5,000 instantly. Lucky Day Lotto reportedly offers the best odds of any jackpot game. Draws are held daily at 12:40 p.m. and 9:22 p.m. local time.
The Illinois Lottery now features online sales of daily games. The daily games available online in Illinois now include:
- Pick 3 Plus Fireball
- Pick 4 Plus Fireball
The Pick 3 Plus Fireball daily lottery game is an Illinois-only lottery game with two draws daily. Players pick three numbers from one to nine. Tickets start at 50 cents and can win up to $250.
Numbers can be played straight, boxed, or played in combinations. The Plus Fireball option allows players to double the wager and provides an extra number drawn, increasing the chances of winning. Drawings are held daily at 12:35 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. local time.
The Pick 4 Plus Fireball daily lottery game is an Illinois-only lottery game with two draws daily. Players pick four numbers from one to nine. Tickets start at 50 cents and can win up to $250.
Numbers can be played straight, boxed, or played in combinations. The Plus Fireball option allows players to double the wager and provides an extra number drawn increasing the chances of winning. Drawings are held daily at 12:40 p.m. and 9:22 p.m. local time.
How to sign up for the Illinois Lottery online
Signing up for an account on the Illinois online lottery website is a safe and secure process. In order to purchase online lottery products, players must register for an Illinois Lottery online account.
Players must be Illinois residents and 18 years of age or older. The Illinois online lottery verifies this information electronically. Sign-up requires the release of some personal information.
Players can also download the Illinois Lottery Mobile App. The Illinois Lottery app is currently available for iOS and Android users on the following mobile carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon. Account sign up and all online lottery products are available through the app.
How to make a deposit online
Once you register for an Illinois Lottery online account and your information is verified, you can deposit funds in your account to purchase online lottery products. The following two deposit methods are available:
- Credit card
- Debit card
This includes Visa, Mastercard, or Discover credit or debit cards. Players can also store your credit and debit card information for later deposits. Players cannot fund online lottery accounts in Illinois directly from a bank account. Only credit or debit cards are accepted.
Chase Visa cards may not be accepted for Illinois Lottery purchases. Cardholders are advised to contact Chase for more information.
What happens when I win?
Once you’ve signed up for an Illinois Lottery online account and started playing online lottery games, you might want to know how to collect your winnings.
Prizes up to and including $600 are automatically paid out to the winning player’s account. Winnings of more than $600 will be processed by the Illinois Lottery Claims Department. Winning players will receive an email to notify them how to complete the claim process.
If there are funds in your Illinois Lottery online account you wish to withdraw, you can have them directly deposited into your checking or savings account. Players can also request a check.
Illinois Lottery online and the law
The US Department of Justice released a legal opinion on the federal Wire Act in December 2011. It concluded anything outside of sporting events falls outside the act’s reach. This allowed states the right to begin online lottery ticket sales.
Lawmakers in Illinois approved the launch of an online lottery sales pilot program in 2011. Illinois became the first state to offer legal online lottery ticket sales when it started the program with sales of Lotto and Mega Millions tickets in March 2012. The program has since expanded to include more games.
The pilot program was set to wrap up in 2016. The state’s General Assembly took no action to continue the program. However, Illinois Lottery Communications Director Steve Rossi issued a statement in March 2016 saying the Illinois Lottery will continue to operate online.
Rossi claimed a detailed review of relevant policies, rules, and laws was conducted and determined that continued internet ticket sales are permissible under current law.
Who oversees the Illinois online lottery?
Illinois began state lottery sales in 1974. Lottery profits initially went to the state’s General Revenue Fund. Legislation was passed in 1985 earmarking profits for the Common School Fund. This remains the Illinois Lottery’s largest benefactor.
In 2010, the Lottery also began contributing to the Capitol Projects Fund, helping build and renovate state roads and bridges.
The Illinois Lottery is an independent, cabinet-level department. However, it did operate under the Department of Revenue on two separate occasions. It last separated from the Department of Revenue in October 2011.
Illinois Lottery strictly adheres to the laws and policies set forth by the Lottery Control Board and the state.
It is currently managed by private manager Northstar Lottery Group under a private management agreement with the state. It also operates with assistance and oversight from the state’s Lottery Control Board.
Are the games fair?
The Illinois Lottery Control Board provides oversight for all lottery games. Northstar Lottery Group is responsible for the overall management and operation of the lottery under a private management agreement with the state. This includes assuring the accountability and integrity of the lottery.
Oversight and assistance is provided by the Illinois Lottery Control Board.
How can I protect my online lottery account?
All Illinois Lottery online accounts are password protected. Users should protect the password the same way they do with all online accounts.
The Illinois Lottery also has a number of safeguards in place for the protection of players and their private information.
Benefits of the online lottery for Illinois
Much of the proceeds from Illinois Lottery sales help fund K-12 public school education.
More than $19 billion has gone from the lottery to public school education, roads, bike trails, school construction, and jobs programs since the Illinois Lottery’s inception.
In 2016, $695 million went from the lottery to the Common School Fund and Capital Projects Fund. That represented 24 percent of lottery ticket sales throughout the fiscal year.
Do online lottery sales take away from regular lottery sales?
No. In fact, ticket sales at the more than 8,500 lottery retailers across Illinois have increased since the state started online sales. Online ticket sales have really only helped increase lottery ticket sales across the state.
Learn how the Illinois Lottery online works and how to play online lottery games in Illinois when you create an account on the Illinois Lottery website.