At the start of 2021, online lottery tickets are available in 19 states and the District of Columbia. That’s an astonishing number, considering how under the radar the spread of online lottery has been compared to online sports betting (legal in more than a dozen states) or even online casino and poker (legal in just a half-dozen states).
That number is likely to increase in 2021.
A Brief History of Online lotteries in the US
Legal online lottery in the US got off to an inauspicious start when a few states decided to sell subscriptions online. That was a nice workaround to full-fledged online lottery sales, which would have to wait until the 2011 Department of Justice Wire Act opinion (at the behest of New York and Illinois) greenlit states to offer non-sports betting online gambling products. Several state lotteries jumped at the opportunity.
The 2018 reversal of that opinion led to the New Hampshire Lottery suing the Department of Justice. That case is still ongoing but appears to be heading towards a resolution in New Hampshire’s favor.
- Legislatures across the country are dealing with COVID-caused budget deficits.
- To date, there are no signs of online lottery products cannibalizing retail lottery sales.
- The spread of sports betting and other products have normalized online gambling.
Full Online Lottery States
The total number of online lottery states stated in the opening is artificially inflated by online courier services and states with limited subscription offerings. Setting aside these “imposter” states for a moment, eight states sell draw game tickets online, six of which also offer instant win games, and three offering online keno games.
- Illinois – Draw games only.
- Kentucky – Draw games only.
- Georgia – Draw and instant win games.
- Michigan – Draw, instant win games, and keno.
- Pennsylvania — Draw and instant win games.
- New Hampshire —Draw and instant win games.
- Rhode Island – Instant win games and keno.
- Virginia – Draw, instant win games, and keno.
Online Lottery Subscription States
- Maine – 13, 26, and 52-week subscriptions are available. Customers can buy and manage subscriptions online, but account funding requires a check or money order by mail.
- New York– The minimum subscription length is two weeks.
- North Carolina– Subscription lengths range from a single draw to a full year.
- North Dakota–Subscription lengths range from a single draw to a full year.
As evidenced by the brief descriptions, subscription restrictions vary, to the point that many wouldn’t even consider Maine an online lottery state.
States Where JackPocket Is Active
Jackpocket is a licensed (in New York and New Jersey) online lottery courier service. The company “offers players a secure way to order official state lottery tickets via a mobile platform that digitally locks your ticket to you,” according to its website.
Jackpocket CEO Peter Sullivan emphasized the importance of compliance in an interview with BettingUSA in March 2020: “Our approach has been to focus on compliance from day one. We really pride ourselves on ensuring that we’re providing the highest level of consumer protections and meeting or exceeding all the regulatory requirements.”
That emphasis has allowed Jackpocket to spread to nine US jurisdictions, including Texas, a state that has resisted other forms of online gambling.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- Washington DC
What States are Next?
In addition to further expansion by Jackpocket, and the possibility of lottery officials flipping the switch in states like Iowa (where legislation isn’t required)m there are a couple of states to keep an eye on, legislatively.
Candidate #1: Massachusetts
Massachusetts is increasingly falling behind in the New England online gambling arms race.
With Massachusetts considered a top contender for sports betting in 2021, online lottery could quickly come along for the ride.
Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg is a longtime proponent of taking the state’s hugely successful lottery online.
“It is disappointing that the House Ways & Means Committee did not include authorization of online Lottery as part of their most recent economic development bill, despite authorizing sports betting,” said Goldberg, whose office oversees the Massachusetts lottery. “As gaming and retail commerce both continue their rapid shift to online and mobile transactions, it is vital that the Lottery be able to sell products using these methods to keep pace with consumer preferences and demands.”
Candidate #2: Connecticut
Like Massachusetts, Connecticut is being squeezed on all sides by online gambling. The state’s tribal casino operators, the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes that operate the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos, are on board, and the state is undoubtedly interested in the potential revenue from online casino and sports betting. However, there are disagreements about who should be involved. The tribes contend sports betting and online casino is their exclusive domain, but others, like the state’s OTB operators and lottery, want in on the action. To broker a compromise between the state’s gaming tribes and commercial gaming operators in the state, the state may add online lottery to the mix