Lotto America Lottery: How and Where to Play
By Randy Ray
Lotto America is a multi-state lottery drawing game available in 13 US states.
Lotto America is a re-launch of an old multi-state game from the late 80s and early 90s. The original version, called Lotto*America, was one of the first multi-state draw games. It was absorbed into what’s now known as Powerball in 1992.
Lotto America’s top prize is a traditional pari-mutuel jackpot that grows over time as it goes unclaimed. The biggest jackpot paid out to date came in March of 2018, when a Minnesota family claimed a cash option worth a lump sum of just about $9 million.
A Lotto America ticket costs $1, though you can spend an extra dollar to activate the game’s All-Star Bonus, which multiplies non-jackpot prizes by 2, 3, 4, or 5 times.
Lotto America is a growing game. That may sound funny when talking about a lottery game available in 13 US states to some 26 million potential players. The game’s volume has never gotten very high – meaning the jackpots take a long time to grow and pay out relative to other multi-state lottery games.
Lotto America has second-class status among multi-state lottery games for reasons other than its small jackpots – for starters, it’s available mainly in smaller markets. The biggest city where Lotto America tickets are sold is Oklahoma City – nothing against OKC, which is a growing tech and innovation hub with a young population and low average home prices. But with a population just under 650,000, it’s not anybody’s idea of a major market.
There’s another reason for Lotto America’s slow growth:
Lotto America has replaced the infamous Hot Lotto multi-state game that was the source of so much scandal in the US lottery community. Here’s a breakdown of the Hot Lotto story if you’re unfamiliar. People have been slower to adopt Lotto America because of its connection, no matter how tenuous to the Hot Lotto scandal.
Quick Guide to Lotto America
Available In: 13 US states
Lotto America Drawings: every Wednesday and Saturday just after 10 PM Eastern
Ticket Purchase Schedule:
Lowest Prize: $2
Lowest Prize Odds: 1 in 17
Top Prize: jackpot (resets to $2 million, highest yet was $22 million)
Top Prize Odds: about 1 in 25.9 million
Odds of Winning Any Prize: 1 in 9.6
States Where Lotto America is Sold
At the time of this post, you can buy Lotto America tickets in the following 13 states:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
The lineup of states that participate in Lotto America is almost identical to the roster of states that participated in Hot Lotto. The only state from the Hot Lotto group that didn’t immediately join Lotto America is New Hampshire, though the legislature has looked at adding the game to their slate of state lottery options.
How to Play Lotto America
Lotto America play is based on a traditional draw lottery payslip. There are 62 total balls for each drawing – 52 normal white balls numbered 1 to 52 and 10 special Star Balls numbered 1 to 10.
Like with any American lottery game, you’re allowed to pick your own five numbers, or allow a random number generator to make a Quick Pick – if you do that, the game terminal will choose your numbers at random for you. Lotto America allows play across multiple drawings on a single payslip – mark the box marked multi-draw on your payslip and select 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 or 10 consecutive drawings.
Lotto America draws twice a week, every Wednesday and Saturday night. The drawing takes place just after 10 PM Eastern time to guarantee a proper cut off time of 9:45.
Lotto America Prizes
All told, nine possible cash prizes exist, if you don’t take the All-Star Bonus and its four possible multipliers into account.
Lotto America’s biggest prize is a variable-amount jackpot that resets to $2 million after it’s claimed. You have a 1 in 25.9 million chance of winning the game’s grand prize. Jackpots have ranged from $2.4 to $22 million. The rate at which the jackpot increases is based on sales and the changing interest rate. Players win the game’s top prize by matching all 5 white ball numbers and the Star Ball exactly.
Aside from the grand prize, the game has prizes in the following amounts:
- $20,000 (for matching all five white balls)
- $1,000 (for matching four white balls plus the Star Ball)
- $100 (for matching four white balls)
- $20 (for matching three white balls and the Star Ball)
- $5 (for matching three white balls or two white balls and the Star Ball)
- $2 (for matching one white ball and the Star Ball or just the Star Ball)
Lotto America All-Star Bonus
Lotto America offers the All-Star Bonus option. For an extra $1, you can multiply any non-jackpot prizes by 2, 3, 4, or 5x. This raises the price of the ticket to $3, though it also raises your minimum win to at least $4. Your multiplier is determined randomly at the time of your win – there’s no rhyme or reason to it. It’s just a matter of luck.
According to the MUSL, you have a 46% chance of winning a 2x multiplier, about a 31% chance of winning a 3x multiplier, a 12.5% chance of winning a 4x multiplier, and a 9.2% chance of claiming the top-tier 5x multiplier.
How does the All-Star Bonus affect Lotto America’s prizes?
The $20,000 second-tier jackpot could be worth as much as $100,00 – even the humble $100 win could turn into $500, all for an extra dollar the time of purchase.
How does the All-Star Bonus affect the game’s odds?
The effect is minimal, considering it doesn’t increase your odds of winning. Because you’re laying out a little more money, your overall odds of winning drop from 1 in 9.63 to 1 in 9.83. That’s not a significant difference, especially considering there are only 104 draws a year. Most players won’t really notice the difference considering how volatile the game is to begin with.
How to Buy Lotto America Tickets Online
Lotto America has embraced the online ticket sales concept.
It’s easy to buy and play Lotto America online without having to visit a retailer.
Every state that participates in Lotto America offers online ticket sales, and you can also purchase your plays directly from Lotto America’s website, provided you live in a state that participates in the game.
Lotto America Strategy
If you’re put off by the concept of strategy as it relates to the lottery, don’t be.
All forms of gambling can be approached from a strategic perspective.
Don’t pay any attention to the lottery tactics you find all over the Internet promising huge wins with no risk or whatever. The mathematics and random forces that drive the lottery can’t be overcome by betting a certain way or picking certain numbers.
You can, however, play the lottery – any lottery game, even Lotto America – with strategy in mind.
The first strategic choice Lotto America players make is how often to play. Do you play all 104 draws a year? If you can afford to lose all $208 you throw at the game, there’s no reason not to. Maybe you have a larger budget and want to play multiple tickets – so long as you aren’t spending money that’s earmarked for some other purpose, go for it.
Here’s another important choice for Lotto America players:
Should you buy the All-Star Bonus option or not?
All these “bet an extra buck for bigger wins” features popping up in state lottery games are fine. If you enjoy placing larger bets for expectation of more winnings, and it makes you enjoy your Lotto America play more, then bet the extra $1.
Understand, however, that adding $1 to a $2 bet means making a 50%-larger outlay on every ticket. Even though the dollar amounts are small, you should consider if you can afford (or even want to afford) spending 50% more money on your lottery games.
Here’s a final word on playing Lotto America strategically:
Do anything you can afford that improves the entertainment value of your lottery bankroll. Some players keep long complex lists of numbers they’ve played, cross-reference it against Excel spreadsheets of past winners, and approach the game from a numbers perspective.
That’s fine if it’s fun for you, but it’s dangerous if you believe that tracking your play will 100% lead to more winnings in the future. That’s a dangerous position for any gambler, even a lottery player dropping $2 at a time.
Comparing Lotto America to Tri-State Megabucks
Tri-State Megabucks is a multi-state lottery game comparable in size and scope to Lotto America.
How do the two games compare?
Tri-State Megabucks’ grand prize has shorter odds – you have about a 1 in 4.4 million chance of claiming the Megabucks grand prize. That prize resets to a lower amount than Lotto America – $1 million compared to Lotto America’s $2 million. The jackpots for Tri-State Megabucks also tend to be lower, though that can change depending on game circumstances. No Tri-State Megabucks jackpot has ever beat out the $22 million record Lotto America payout.
In terms of overall odds of winning, Tri-State Megabucks pays out about 1 in every 6 tries, compared to just about 1 in 8 for Lotto America. Overall prize odds of 1 in 6 are significantly better than 1 in 8, so if you just like to win regardless of the size of the prize, Tri-State may be a better game for you.