Lotteries and Sweepstakes were illegal in the United States until after World War II. It was not until the 1960's that the first modern day lotteries began to emerge once again as a way to raise revenue for the state governments in addition to taxes. The first modern state lottery was established in New Hampshire in 1964 and currently there are lotteries in 42 states. State lottery tickets are now most often scanned in large numbers using the new Marksense technology that can take less than a second to check if a certain combination of numbers was picked by anyone even for large multi-state lotteries like the Mega Millions.
Whether to run a lottery is currently the choice of state governments and as such the rues of each are reliant on the state in which they are run. The first US interstate lottery was in 1985 and involved three New England States. Three years later the Multi-State Lottery Association was formed amongst Oregon, Iowa, Kansas, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Missouri, and the District of Columbia and Lotto America was founded. In 1992 this game later evolved into the still enormously popular game, Powerball, now played amongst 29 states. The second biggest multi state game began as The Big Game in 1996 and evolved into Mega Million, currently played by 12 states. Other popular multi-state lotteries include Hot Lotto and Wild Card2.
Hot Lotto is played in 10 states and Washington DC and began in April 2002 in order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Powerball. Hot Lotto drawings are not televised and are drawn by a computerized random number generator rather than using the traditional ball machine. The record for the highest Hot Lotto prize was won in 2007 and was just under $20 million.
Wild Card 2 is also run by the MUSL and is the second version of the original Wild Card game. It is played in a similar fashion to Powerball except that the sixth "number" is actually one of 16 playing cards or any of the four suits. Unlike other multi-state lotteries, all Wild Card 2 prizes are paid out in cash rather than having an annuity option.
Instant Lottery tickets, also known as scratch offs or scratch cards were first introduced in the 1970's and have become a significant source of lottery revenue. Simple scratch offs require players to match a certain amount of numbers representing the same prize amounts - a winning ticket receives that amount. Scratch cards can be more complicated than this however with many ways to win on one card or with symbols, pictures, or words instead of numbers. More popular scratch offs are adaptations of popular games like Poker or Monopoly or Blackjack or are connected to popular brands like Harley Davidson, NASCAR, Marvel Comics, or FIFA.
The Lottery and the Internet
The Internet has revolutionized the way many businesses are run, and although it hasn't transformed the way the lotteries are run the Internet has modernized the way many people participate in lotteries. Online scratch cards can be played at anytime using Flash and Java applications. This can be more addicting than playing the actual game because it is easily available at any time.
Web-only lotteries have surfaced all over the Internet as well as traditional lotteries with online payments. The numbers are often drawn by the site that runs the online lotto or can be linked to a major real world lottery draw to guarantee reliability. Prize money on these sites can range, like normal lotteries, all the way up to $10 million but often do not exceed that. Many of these online lotteries are offered for free with the price of printing a physical ticket being supplemented in ad sales for the site, making them a viable and tempting option for lottery players. Three popular online-lottery sites that require registration but then offer free games are iwinweekly.com, GuessLotto.com, and iWon.com and are all owned by GTech Corporation which administers almost 70% or the worldwide online-lottery business.
Online lotteries have begun to come into question however, due to the fact that they flourished with less scrutiny than physical lotteries and can therefore be generally less prohibitive. Many sites have developed that offer lottery ticket purchasing services that charge unwarranted premiums on base lottery prices. Additionally regulators are finding it difficult to enforce gambling laws on the Internet and there is no process in place to develop online-gambling laws fast enough to keep up with new technologies and ways to bet online.