No, the Minnesota State Legislature voted in June to end the Minnesota Lottery's ability to sell eScratch tickets on the Lottery's website. The same legislation also requires us to end Play at the Pump and Play at ATM sales. All online, pump, and ATM sales have been terminated as of August 31, 2015.
Everyone gets so excited when the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots go way up to multi millions of dollars. Why not pay 200 winners $1 million each, instead of $200 million to one winner?
Seems like a great idea, doesn’t it? The reality, however, is that people want to play for the big jackpot amounts. Sales at the $200 million jackpot level are three times what they are at the $40 million jackpot level. We also have no control over the number combinations players select. It is possible to have none, one or many winners on any given set of numbers. We offer a variety of games so players can take their pick of jackpot sizes. Powerball and Mega Millions are the big jackpot games but Hot Lotto jackpots start at $1 million, Gopher 5 jackpots start at $100,000, and Northstar Cash jackpots start at $25,000.
If I win the jackpot, do I have the option of remaining anonymous as far as the public and the media are concerned?
Minnesota state law provides that your name, city of residence and the prize amount won is public information. Your street address, phone number and social security number are private information and will not be released by the Lottery.
Do I have to match the numbers in the exact order drawn?
This depends on the game you play. For Daily 3, it depends on the bet type you placed. For more information, visit the Daily 3 game page. For All or Nothing, Gopher 5 and Northstar Cash, the numbers on your ticket are always printed in numerical order. Those numbers need to match the numbers drawn, but not in the order drawn. If you play Powerball or Mega Millions you can match the first five white ball numbers drawn in any order. However, the Powerball number on your ticket (the last number, behind the letters “PB”) must match the Powerball number drawn. The Mega Ball number on your ticket (the last number, behind the letters “MB”) must match the Mega Ball number drawn. You cannot crisscross lines to match numbers on any ticket.
I received an email from a person saying I won the Lottery. How do I know if this is real or fake?
The only way to win the Lottery is to buy a lottery ticket, or enter a second-chance contest directly on our website. You would never be asked to provide personal information over the phone or via e-mail by the Minnesota State Lottery. A legitimate lottery would also never ask you to pay taxes or fees before you receive payment. If you have any questions about a suspicious e-mail or phone call, call the lottery at (651) 635-8273, then press 2. Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For more information about scams, or to file a complaint, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at (877) FTC-HELP or www.ftc.gov; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at (651) 293-3200 or www.usps.com/postalinspectors; the Minnesota Attorney General at (651) 296-3353, (800) 657-3787, or www.ag.state.mn.us; or your local law enforcement agency.
What’s the difference between Powerball and Mega Millions?
Powerball and Mega Millions are both multi-million dollar jackpot games, but that's where the similarities end. The games have different starting jackpot amounts, different prize structures, different ticket prices, and different drawing days. You can find more information about Powerball and Mega Millions on their respective game pages.
What’s the difference between the cash and annuity option?
When someone wins the jackpot and wants cash, they get all of the cash in the jackpot prize pool. If the winner wants the annuity, the cash in the prize pool is invested to fund the annuity payments. The winner gets the cash plus the interest earned. When you see an estimated jackpot annuity prize, we are estimating both sales and what the market’s prices on certain securities will be. The annuity jackpot amount and the cash jackpot amount that we announce are always estimates until sales are final and, for the annuity jackpot, until bids are issued on the purchase of securities.
If I die before I receive all the payments from a lottery prize like the Powerball jackpot, will my heirs receive the rest of my prize money?
Yes. Payments continue to the winner's estate until exhausted. The Lottery also permits the estate to request that all remaining payments be paid immediately to the estate. This permits the estate to pay inheritance taxes immediately, avoiding any penalties, and to distribute the remainder to the heirs. The amount of the payment will be based on the present value of the securities being held by the Lottery. Then, of course, no more payments exist. There also might be certain lifetime prizes in the Lottery. These usually have a guaranteed minimum number of payments. If the winner dies before the minimum number of payments has been made, payments continue until the minimum is reached.
Where is the Powerball prize money kept until it is paid out? Is there any chance that something could happen to it before the 30-year payout period ends?
Guaranteed government-backed securities are purchased to fund the 30-year liability after a player elects to receive the Powerball jackpot prize in 30 payments. The first payment will be paid after the prize is claimed; the next 29 payments will be paid yearly.
Does Minnesota share Powerball and Mega Millions money with other states?
The only money that is shared in Powerball and Mega Millions is the prize money paid to jackpot prizewinners. The rest of the revenue from tickets purchased in Minnesota stays in Minnesota.
If you win the Powerball jackpot and select the cash option, on what amount do you pay taxes?
You are taxed on the dollar amount that you are paid, at the time it is paid to you. If you choose the cash option, since you are paid one lump sum all at once, you would pay taxes at that time on the total lump sum. However, if you choose the annuity option, you would pay taxes each year on the amount you receive that year.
Can a resident of Canada purchase Minnesota State Lottery tickets? If a Canadian citizen wins, how would the payment be made and how are the taxes paid?
Yes, residents of Canada (or any other non-Minnesotan of legal age) may play our Lottery. However, all players must purchase their tickets in person from an authorized Lottery retailer physically located in Minnesota. When a winner is not a U.S. citizen or a legal resident of the U.S., we are required to withhold federal taxes of 30 percent for any prize paid. We are required to withhold state taxes of 7.25 percent for any prize over $5,000. Prize money in Minnesota (and most of the United States) is treated just like wages, so the ultimate tax liability may vary based on the winner's tax status.
Who decides how much the Powerball jackpot should be and how is it figured?
It is a percentage of the sales for each individual drawing. Fifty percent of ticket sales go to the entire prize pool. In addition, game rules specify that the minimum jackpot prize in Powerball is $40 million and the minimum increase from draw to draw is $10 million. If the jackpot is won while these minimums are in effect, we may pay the prize out of a reserve account that we have set up and funded just for that purpose.
We have a serious discussion at work as to whether the odds of winning the Powerball increase, decrease or remain the same depending on how many tickets are sold. Which is it?
It makes absolutely no difference how many tickets are sold or how many states play the game. You are always playing against the numbers we draw. In Powerball, we always draw the white numbers from a field of 69 and the Powerball from a field of 26. The only impact increased sales would have on your odds is that the more tickets that are sold, the better the odds you might have to share the jackpot with another player (assuming you won).
If I buy a quick-pick ticket, can anyone else get those numbers?
Yes, more than one person can receive the same quick-pick numbers. The numbers produced on Lottery quick-pick tickets are created using a random number generator within the lottery ticket printer. The ticket printer uses several calculations based on the printer's internal clock and mathematical algorithms to produce the sets of numbers. The formula has no regard for previously selected sets of numbers and is tested extensively for randomness.
Are there any statistics regarding which picking techniques are winners? Do quick picks win more often than handpicked numbers?
The percentage of quick pick plays varies a great deal from game to game and with the size of the jackpot. For Powerball, the quick-pick percentage normally runs about 70 percent, and about 70 percent of the winners are from quick-pick tickets. How you pick your numbers has absolutely nothing to do with being a winner. The numbers 1-2-3-4-5 and 6 have exactly the same chance of winning as any other set of six numbers. The only thing is, if you pick your own numbers, and you base them on something logical, artificial or limiting (like dates), you are more likely to have to split the pari-mutuel jackpot prize because others may be using the same numbers.
There are 26 red Powerballs so why aren't the odds of getting the Powerball 1 in 26 instead of 1 in 38 as shown on the "How to Play" section of the Powerball game page?
This is one of our most frequently asked questions. You need to also consider the odds of getting at least one of the white numbers correct in looking at the odds of getting only the Powerball.
Is it true that the odds of winning the lottery are worse than being killed by lightning?
No, even if we just consider the awarding of large jackpots. Every year, more people win $1 million or more playing North American lotteries than are killed by lightning. In addition, there’s no second prize in a lightning strike. In a lottery, you win lesser amounts of money by coming close to the winning numbers. In many games, odds of 1 in 5 or 1 in 4 are not uncommon. Lotteries award over $50 million in prizes in North America every day. Lightning isn’t nearly that productive.
Is the payout for scratch tickets more or less than when the Lottery first started?
When the Lottery started, scratch games paid out 60 percent. Depending on the game, scratch games now pay out between 64 percent and 74 percent. Minnesota state law requires the scratch games to have a minimum payout of 60 percent of ticket sales.
Why did you end my favorite scratch game when all of the top prizes haven’t been claimed?
There is a limited amount of space in the ticket dispensers, so when we launch three or four new scratch games, we have to end three or four older scratch games to make room. The games we end depend on a lot of factors, including inventory available in the warehouse, inventory at retail locations, sales patterns of the game, price points of games available, play styles available, etc. Just because a top-prize winning ticket hasn’t been claimed does not mean that a top-prize winning ticket hasn’t been sold. Lottery winners have up to one year from the announced end of the game to claim their prize. Tickets are redeemed almost every day from every game that is less than one year old.
Why is it that with odds of about 1 in 4, I can sometimes buy 10 tickets in a row and not get a winner?
Stated odds are based on the entire game. While the Lottery requires that the program randomly inserting winning plays into the ticket-printing process limits the strings of non-winning tickets, it is possible to have several winning tickets, or none, in a string of 10. The Lottery does not know where winning tickets are placed. The program that determines random placement is audited.
Why isn't there a better payback on low-end winners, especially for lotto games?
The games are designed by the Lottery to pay a specific percentage of prizes and provide a specific occurrence of winning. Game design is a matter of balancing the amount of prize money that is going to be committed to the jackpot prize and the lower set prizes. The more you allocate to the set prizes, the smaller the jackpot will be and the slower it will grow. These decisions are simply professional judgment calls based on industry information and market appeal.
Can I purchase lottery tickets from a retailer with a check, check card or debit card?
Yes, if the retailer allows it. Minnesota Rule 7856.4010, subpart 16, permits retailers to accept coin, currency, money orders and checks for the payment of lottery tickets. Also, since the use of a check card or debit card is the same as a check, the use of those cards is also permitted. While a lottery retailer may accept a check or a check card for the payment of lottery tickets, the retailer is not required to do so. The Lottery does not require a retailer to accept a check or a check card for the payment of lottery tickets. In other words, a retailer is permitted to have a policy that they will not accept checks or debit cards for the purchase of lottery tickets.
How long do I have to claim a prize I won?
Tickets for lotto games (those printed by a lottery machine, like Powerball, Hot Lotto, Gopher 5, etc.) expire one year from the date of the drawing. Scratch tickets expire one year after the game officially ends. If the one-year deadline falls on a weekend or a holiday, you have until the end of the next business day to claim prizes.
Where do proceeds from the Lottery go?
The state constitution and law determines the distribution of Lottery proceeds. Currently, the state General Fund receives 60 percent of proceeds. The General Fund is the money that the state Legislature appropriates for the operation of all state services. The remaining 40 percent of proceeds goes to the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which finances environment and natural resources projects across the entire state. A 6.5 percent in-lieu-of-sales tax is directed to the Game and Fish Fund and Natural Resources Fund for fish and game, parks, trails, and zoos. The General Fund also receives a portion of this money. For more information, please visit Where the Money Goes.
How can I get funding through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund?
Each year, the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources accepts proposals for environmental projects. Five Senators, five Representatives, five citizens appointed by the governor, one citizen appointed by the Senate and one citizen appointed by the House form the Commission. For more information, visit the LCCMR Web site.
What happens to all of the prize money when someone forgets to cash a winning ticket?
It is different in each state. In Minnesota, all of the unclaimed prize money goes to the state General Fund. The answer is different for Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots. Unclaimed jackpots for these games would go back to the participating states based on the percentage of sales that they contributed to the prize fund.
How can I find out about unclaimed prizes?
Visit our Unclaimed Prizes page to see which games have prizes remaining. We try to update our list of unclaimed prizes at least once every weekday.
Why does it seem like all the major prize winners are in the Twin Cities metro area?
An analysis of winner location reflects proportionate winners to sales volume across the state. Approximately 50 percent of sales occur in the Twin Cities metro area so over time, about 50 percent of winning tickets will be purchased in the metro area.
I'm in a lottery pool at work. How many people can go together to claim a winning lottery prize?
There is no limit; however, each person wanting to claim part of the prize will need to fill out an individual claim form. See the Claim a Prize section of our website for additional details.
What is the cutoff time to buy tickets for each night’s drawing?
Powerball drawings are held Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9:59 p.m. Sales cutoff is 9 p.m. on drawing days.
Mega Millions drawings are held Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 p.m. Sales cutoff is 9 p.m. on drawing days.
Lucky for Life drawings are held Mondays and Thursdays at 9:38 p.m. Sales cutoff is 8:10 p.m. on drawing days.
Gopher 5 drawings are held Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:17 p.m. Sales cutoff is 6:10 p.m. on drawing days. • Northstar Cash and Daily 3 drawings are held daily at 6:17 p.m. Tickets must be purchased by 6:10 p.m.