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Types of Lottery Games

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There are several different types of lotteries that are common to most states and provinces in North America. All of these lotteries have similar rules of play and structure. The only difference is the name given to the lottery, which might create confusion from one state, province or federal government to another.

Mega Millions and Power Ball

Lotto GamesOne of the most common of lottery games (especially in the United States) is the Power Ball or Mega Millions type of game. This includes the optional choosing of an extra number in order to win extra cash or a prize. In this type of lottery you are asked to pick anywhere from five to seven numbers plus one additional number. This additional number is also often called a Power number or a Bonus number.

Another example of this type of lottery is California’s Super Lotto Plus. It allows the choosing of one additional number to win a prize. Usually these lotteries, which dole out large amounts of money as prizes, are held once or twice a week.

Pick Three

Another widespread type of lottery in both the United States and Canada is the Pick 3 Lottery. As implied by its names, the Pick 3 lottery allows you to pick three numbers (zero through to nine) for a dollar and then charges an extra fee (anywhere from 50 cents to a dollar) to manipulate them as a boxed or straight-boxed play. The results of this type of lottery are usually televised daily.

In Canada, slips with the results of all the winning numbers are set on vendor’s counters so one can check the previous day’s numbers to see if they have won. Canada also has a Pick 4 daily lottery, which works on exactly the same premise except that instead of three numbers, you can pick four to win.


Keno is also offered as a lottery style game. The player is offered a ticket slip of one to 80 numbers. This player is asked to bet which one of the numbers will come up during a draw that is usually announced at the end of night on television and radio. Keno results are also usually available in the morning and evening newspapers.

Some states in the United States and provinces in Canada also offer a lottery style version of Keno. A good example is the state of California’s Daily Derby lottery that asks you to select three winning horses in a fictional horse race. You are asked to choose which horse will finish first, which will finish second and which will finish third. Guessing the race time can make an additional bet. The results of the Daily Derby are announced on television and in the newspapers at the end of the day.

Scratch and Win Games

Scratch and Win tickets are a form of lottery that offers instant gratification as you find out whether or not you have won a big jackpot right on the spot. Even though they are technically not real lotto tickets they are often referred to as Lotto tickets or Scratch ‘N Win Lotto tickets simply because it is a Lottery corporation that prints out and regulates them.

Scratch tickets are sometimes based on a game like Bingo or Poker, but usually to win all you have to do is match a pair or trio of images. Scratching off a thin latex film over printed sets and patterns to reveal a winning combination does this. The cash prizes offered with a scratch and win ticket are often smaller than the prizes that are offered as jackpots in true lotteries.

The state of Ohio is one exception. It is famous for its gigantic Scratch and Win jackpots.

The Game Mechanics of Lotteries

Most lotteries in both the United States and Canada are based on what is called the pari-mutuel system. This French word means that the jackpot size is based on the amount of tickets sold and not a fixed amount. As a result the size of jackpots can vary greatly from draw to draw. Pari-mutuel makes game play very exciting as the system allows unwon jackpots to roll over into the next game, making it possible to win enormous cash prizes.

Most lotteries are created to help fund civic projects such as the building of schools, hospitals and churches and cultural projects such as the funding of art, performances and museums. The idea is that these funds are supposed to supplement, not substitute for funds provided by the state. All lottery corporations in North America have to donate at least 30% of their proceeds to good causes.

The amount of profit from the selling of lottery tickets is also mandated by state, provincial and federal governments to be returned to the public in the form of prizes. At least 50% of the money that a lottery corporation makes from the selling of tickets must be given back in the form of winnings.

Usually fewer than twenty percent of the proceeds are spent on the actual administration of the game, such as employee wages, advertising and the printing of lotto tickets. These numbers differ slightly depending on which state or government is running the lottery.

The UK Lottery site has lots of information about the lottery games in their country too.

More lottery games, by state:
Arizona California
Connecticut Colorado
Delaware Florida
Georgia Idaho
Illinois Indiana
Iowa Kansas
Kentucky Louisiana
Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan
Minnesota Missouri
Montana Nebraska
New Hampshire New Jersey
New Mexico New York
North Dakota North Carolina
Ohio Oklahoma
Oregon Pennsylvania
Rhode Island South Carolina
South Dakota Tennessee
Texas Vermont
Virginia Washington
West Virginia Washington D.C
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