How To Get Started Playing The Lotto
here are two main ways in which you can play your favorite game or games on the Pennsylvania lottery. The first is to buy your tickets in person, and there are retail outlets right across the Keystone State that are authorized to sell them.
The second is to sign up for an online account at the lottery’s official website or mobile app. Just follow these steps:
- Click the Sign Up or Join button at the top of your home page or screen
- Open the registration form and fill in your email address and a password
- Give your full name and address and your date of birth
- Choose, and provide answers for, two security questions
- Confirm you are at least 18, and agree to the terms and conditions
- You’re now ready to make your first deposit and start playing
Payment Options for the PA Lottery
Once you have signed up for an account, you will want to deposit some funds in it so that you can purchase your first tickets. When you are logged into your new account, click on the Deposit button at the top of the page.
The options available when you want to put money into your account are:
- ✅ Visa
- ✅ Mastercard
- ✅ ACH
- ✅ PayPal
- ✅ PayNearMe
How to Claim Lottery Winnings
If you are lucky enough to win one of the many prizes available at the wide range of games you can play through the Pennsylvania lottery, how do you collect your money?
Prizes of up to $2,500 can be collected from Pennsylvania Lottery retail outlets. However, if you claim a prize of $600 or more, you will need to fill in a form and send it to the state lottery HQ.
Similarly, if you win an instant game prize in the form of annuity payments, you’ll need to file a claim at an area lottery office. Prizes in multi-state games such as Powerball and Mega Millions also have to be claimed from the lottery HQ in Middletown.
Online Lottery Games Available in Pennsylvania
There are numerous types of game available through the Pennsylvania lottery, which means plenty of ways in which you can hit the jackpot. The most popular are the instant games, also known as scratch-off tickets, which can be played straight away. More than 40 per cent of the proceeds of the lottery are generated by these games.
Then there are the regular Pennsylvania-only draw games, other options such as keno and Xpress Sports games, and the major multi-state games that residents of the Keystone State can enter.
Instant Scratch-Off Games
As you will see when you visit the PA lottery website or app, there are several scratch-off games you can play at any time. You can buy a ticket for as little as a dollar, or invest up to $50. The more you spend, the better your odds are of winning, and the higher the prizes that tend to be available.
Odds of winning
The odds about winning any prize in a scratch-off depend on which game you are playing. Check the back of your ticket and you should get a guide to your chances of getting a payout.
Your likelihood of winning is determined by the total number of tickets in a game, divided by the total number of prizes in it. The lottery organizers are at pains to point out that prizes are distributed completely at random – there are no particularly lucky retail outlets or neighborhoods.
Fast Play Games
Fast Play games are similar to scratch-offs, but tickets are printed from a lottery terminal. You usually have to match one or more symbols or numbers to the winning combination – and you can play for between $1 and $30.
Some Fast Play games include a progressive jackpot, which climbs with each ticket sold until one lucky winner claims it. Go to the PA lottery site to see which prizes are still available on current games.
Odds of winning
It’s not possible to say what the odds are about winning a jackpot or any size of payout in a Fast Play game. This varies depending on the size of the game, and the level of the prizes that have still to be claimed.
Virtual Sports Games
Since 2018, Pennsylvania lottery players have had the chance to enjoy virtual sports games. These run on monitors in retail locations every few minutes 24/7, and deliver randomly generated outcomes. You can enjoy football-themed and auto-racing games as well as Derby Cash, a virtual horse racing game.
Odds of winning
The odds about winning vary from theme to theme and game to game. However, as an example if you pick the first three right in an Xpress Car racing game, you get a $250 payout for a $1 bet – though the actual odds are one in 1,320. Similarly, simply picking the winner is a one in 13.33 chance, but you get $2 for a $1 stake.
Keno games have been available at the lottery since 2018. Twenty numbers are drawn between 1 and 80; you choose between one and ten numbers and hope to match as many as possible to generate a payout. There are numerous options available to you, including a multiplier that triples your cost but could boost your payout by up to ten times. Please gamble responsibly and within your means at all times.
Odds of winning
The odds on any Keno game vary considerably depending on how many spots, or numbers, you choose and how many of them match with numbers drawn during the game. Check out the Keno page at the PA lottery site for a full rundown of your chances of winning.
There are several Pennsylvania-only draw games that you can play on a regular basis. The most familiar are Pick 2, Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5. All of these are drawn twice daily, seven days a week.
On each of these, you can add a Wild Ball, which doubles your stake. Other popular draw games are Treasure Hunt, Cash 5, and Match 6.
Odds of winning
The odds of winning a big prize on any of these games varies from game to game. Let’s take Treasure Hunt, for instance. You select five numbers from 1 to 30, and the chances of matching two is a little over one in six. However, the probability of matching all five is one in more than 140,000.
Odds of the Most Popular Online Lottery Games
Odds are an expression of the probability of a particular outcome occurring. In the case of lottery games, the table below shows the likelihood of winning the main jackpot.
A concept closely related to odds is the return to player (RTP) percentage. This demonstrates how much of your stake is returned to you over time. Most casino games, for instance, have an RTP of between 96% and 99%. The RTP is not a static figure; it moves as each game is played.
|Powerball||1 in 292 million|
|Mega Millions||1 in 302 million|
|Pick 2 odds (straight)||1 in 100|
|Cash 5||1 in 962,000|
|Keno (10 spot)||1 in 8.9 million|
|Treasure Hunt||1 in 142,000|
Playing the Pennsylvania Lottery on a Mobile Device
Technology has evolved considerably since the first PA lottery games were launched in 1972. One of the biggest developments has been the ability to play some games, and check your lottery results, on your mobile device. The PA Lottery official app is available for iPhone and Android devices at the App Store and Google Play Store respectively.
How to Play the Lottery on Android
If you have an Android device, you can play scratch-off games and some draws, as well as checking results in other games, by downloading the Pennsylvania Lottery app. Follow these steps:
- Go to the Google Play Store and search for the Pennsylvania Lottery app.
- Click on the app and it should start to download to your device.
- Go to your home screen, sign up or sign in - and you can start playing.
How to Play the Lottery on an iPhone
You can play on your iPhone by downloading the Apple Store version of the app. This will keep you in touch with all the latest draw results and news. All you need to do is:
- Go to the Apple Store on your iPhone and search for the PA Lottery app.
- Click on it to download it to your home screen.
- It should be ready virtually instantly for you to sign in and start playing.
Are There Any PA Lottery Promotions?
It’s possible to get extra value and fun out of the experience of playing the Pennsylvania lottery if you take advantage of the many promotions that are available.
These begin with a welcome offer of a deposit match of up to $500 on your first deposit. That is followed by daily promotions – check out the relevant section of the site to see what is available right now.
On every day of the week, there are special offers with names like Monday Cash, Two for Tuesday, Risk-Free Wednesday, and Throwback Thursday.
Even if you are a casual or irregular player of the lottery, make sure you check out the promotions that are available to see if one could give your play a welcome boost.
Pennsylvania Lottery Law
The Pennsylvania Lottery has been in operation since 1972, and is run by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There are several legal requirements that relate to the running of the lottery:
- You must be aged at least 18 to play
- You must be located within Pennsylvania, whether you are playing online, on your mobile device, or on retail premises
- By law, at least 40 per cent of the proceeds of the lottery must be paid out in prizes
- Another 27 per cent of the proceeds must be devoted to support programs; Pennsylvania is the only state lottery where all the proceeds go to help its elderly residents
Online sales of tickets for some games has been legal since 2017
Biggest Pennsylvania Lottery Winners
There have been some spectacular examples of people landing enormous jackpot prizes in Pennsylvania. This has been the case particularly since the Keystone State joined the multi-state jackpot games such as Mega Millions and Powerball in the early years of this century.
Some of the biggest winners have included:
🥇 May 2021: A Mega Millions jackpot with a $516million annuity value is won by a single ticket sold in Levittown, Bucks County. It’s the largest prize paid out so far by the Pennsylvania Lottery, with a cash value of $349.3million.
🥇 August 2022: A Powerball jackpot ticket worth $122.3million in cash, and with an annuity value of $206.9million, is sold at a Sheetz in Westmoreland County.
🥇 March 2018: A single ticket sold in Manheim, Lancaster County, wins a Powerball jackpot with a $456.7million annuity value and a cash value of $273.9million.
History of the Pennsylvania Lottery
The history of the Pennsylvania Lottery has been a fascinating one, ever since it was established more than 50 years ago:
- 1971: The lottery is created, with proceeds initially intended to offer property tax relief for seniors in the state.
- 1972: The first game goes live, through which a 50-cent ticket could win you a $50,000 weekly top prize, with occasional draws for a $1million jackpot.
- 1975: The first televised Millionaire drawing is screened, and in the same year instant games are launched.
- 1982: The first lotto-style game, Pennsylvania Lotto, is launched. Players pick six numbers between one and 40 for a chance to win $1million.
- 1988: Total historical sales hit the $10billion mark.
- 1994: For the first time, the lottery carries an all-electronic jackpot game.
- 1998: The launch of palottery.com sees the lottery go online for the first time.
- 2002: Powerball joins the list of games available, and within three months the first Pennsylvania jackpot ticket is sold.
- 2010: People in Pennsylvania are now able to play Mega Millions.
- 2014: The state’s first Mega Millions jackpot winner comes forward, a Pittsburgh man who takes the cash prize of $86million.
- 2015: The Pick range of games is launched.
- 2020: Powerball and Mega Millions tickets can now be bought online at pailottery.com.
- 2022: The PA Lottery marks its 50th anniversary; in the same year, it hands out a record online prize of $1.6million on PA Big Winner Spectacular.
- 2023: For the 12th consecutive year, the lottery generates profits of more than $1.1billion for the benefit of senior state residents.
Responsible Gambling When Playing the Lottery
Like all licensed forms of gambling, the Pennsylvania Lottery has a legal duty to encourage responsible play among its players at all times. Anybody worried that they are spending too much time or money on lotto games should consult the Responsible Gaming section in the Help Center on the lottery’s site.
Here you will find extensive advice about self-exclusion, setting gambling limits, and much more. There is also a dedicated support helpline and email address if you need to speak to someone about your gambling. These are also important things to remember when playing on online casinos in PA.
Pennsylvania Online Lottery FAQ
Yes, you can. For many years now, players have been able to enjoy many instant games and to purchase draw tickets through the PA Lottery’s website. You can also use the lottery’s app, which is available at both major app stores for those who like to play on the move.
You should expect to pay tax on any PA Lottery winnings over $2,500 in a single year. The IRS has ruled that all forms of income generated by gambling will be regarded as taxable. Indeed, if you enjoy a win of more than $5,000, the state will withhold federal income tax from your payout.
You can buy tickets for some lottery games through your mobile device, or via the website. However, many people still prefer to access the full suite of games in person – and there are about 10,000 locations across the state that are authorized to sell lottery tickets.