New York participates in three major lotteries, but only one of them is specifically reserved for New Yorkers. Known as Lotto, but more commonly as the New York Lottery, this lotto game has its history way back in 1967, when it became the United States’ third major lottery. It goes by the slogan “Hey, you never know!” and is the highest sales of traditional draw games for a state lottery. The New York Lottery falls under the jurisdiction of the New York State Gaming Commission.
How does the New York Lottery work?
Known simply as Lotto, this is the main lottery game offered solely to players based in the state. Draws take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and tickets cost $1 for two games.
The New York Lottery game features a pool of 59 numbers, with players required to choose 6 of those for their ticket. Bonus balls are also used, but they only factor into the second game. Random tickets are also possible in this lottery.
The New York Lottery is in a state of decline, largely due to the popularity of the Powerball and Mega Millions lottery games, which New York also participates in.
Cash prizes and jackpots
The New York Lottery is often criticised, due to it having low cash prizes. It has also been criticised for having a low payout percentage, at around 40%. Throw in the fact that the Powerball is drawn on the same nights at the Lotto game, and the fact that the Mega Millions lotto offers vastly superior cash prizes, and the New York Lottery game is certainly in trouble.
The standard lottery game is played with just the six numbers on your ticket. Played need to match all six to win the top prize. To win the second game, players need to land at least five of the six numbers on the ticket, plus the bonus number.
The total pot is made up of 40% of the sales of tickets (which is a really low figure), and the prizes are split 75% for the first prize, 7.25% for the second prize, 5.50%, 6.25% and 6% for the third, fourth and fifth prize tiers. Players can bag their jackpot win either in 26 graduated annual payments, or as a lump sum cash prize. Jackpot prizes are typically worth around $5 million, which is small potatoes compared to the Mega Millions and Powerball lottos.
Players have a 1 in 45 million chance of success of winning the top prize, whilst the second prize (with the bonus) offers a 1 in 7.5 million chance. Your chance of landing any prize at all are 1 in 46, which is quite bad for a state lottery in the US.
Variants and similar lotteries
New York also has other lotteries which is participates in. The Cash4Life lotto is played between New York and neighbouring New Jersey, whilst the state also joins in the Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries alongside 43 other states. It is these latter two lotteries (alongside the poor payout percentages of the New York Lottery) which have threatened to put Lotto out of business.
Variants of the New York Lottery do exist, and Numbers, Win-4, Take 5, Pick 10, and Quick Draw keno games take place throughout the week in the state.
Playing the New York Lottery online
Players are unable to purchase tickets online from the official New York Lottery website. However, several international online retailers do sell tickets. The Lotter is famed for offering players (including international players) the chance to buy tickets to the New York Lottery, whilst Lottery Master also offers tickets to the New York Lotto.