Not being a country known for half-measures, when the United States of America does something, it goes all out. This is evident not only in its significant contribution to science, technology, sport, and the arts, and in its often incredible meddling in international affairs, but also in its lotto games.
There are a number of interstate and state-specific lotteries, and some of them have become the stuff of legends. From lotteries such as Mega Millions and Powerball, which are known not only throughout America, but around the world as well, to more localised games such as the Florida Lotto and the New York Lotto, the many games see millions of people purchase tickets and play their lucky numbers on a weekly basis.
American Lotto Then and Now
Lotto in America dates back to the 19th century, when so-called Policy Shops ran an underground numbers game for bettors. The practice drew a strong rebuke from a New York State Assembly committee, and was branded the “lowest, meanest, worst form” of gambling.
A similar game was played in Cuban and Italian neighbourhoods, where it was known as Bolita and the Italian Lottery, respectively.
Despite early condemnations of the lotto, the first government-run lottery was set up in Puerto Rico in 1934. In 1964, the second was established in New Hampshire. There are now lotteries in 44 states and in three territories.
Mega Millions Lotto
Arguably America’s biggest lotto, Mega Millions attracts international attention. Played in 44 states, the district of Columbia, and in the US Virgin Islands, the game sees twice-weekly draws. Winning numbers are selected using a 5/75 white ball and a 1/15 Mega Ball double matrix.
This lottery is known for having produced some of the world’s largest ever jackpots, including one that topped $600 million.
USA Powerball Lotto
The Powerball is possibly America’s second-biggest lotto. Like Mega Millions, it’s operated nearly nationwide, and also attracts its fair share of international players. The game has a reputation for rolling over jackpots if they are not won; something that has led to the game paying out a jackpot of more than $500 million.
Hot Lotto Game
Officially played in 16 states, Hot Lotto is America’s third most popular interstate lottery game. Its reach extends beyond the borders of those 16 states, however, as players from around the country are able to buy tickets through online agencies.
One of the game’s biggest jackpots climbed to almost $20 million before being won.
Tri State Megabucks Plus Lotto
Run by the Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont lottery companies, the Tri State Megabucks Plus Lotto is aimed at those three states, but sees a buy-in from across America through online ticket sales. One of its biggest jackpots rose to just over $16 million.
State-Specific American Lotteries
One of America’s most popular state-specific lotteries is California Lottery’s Super Lotto Plus. Known for being one of the most generous of the state lotteries, its biggest jackpot thus far exceeded $190 million.
Florida, a state known for laid-back, near tropical lifestyles, is home to the Florida Lotto, a popular lottery that has seen jackpots top $100 million. Not to be outdone by the west side or by the south east, New York offers several lotteries. Two of the biggest are the New York Lotto, which is one of the oldest in America and has paid out jackpots close to $72 million, and the Cash4Life lottery, which offers its jackpots in lump sums or in smaller amounts paid weekly, for the rest of the winner’s life.