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The Georgia Lottery is overseen by the government of Georgia, United States. Headquartered in Atlanta and run by the Georgia Lottery Corporation, the lottery takes in over US$1 billion yearly. By law, half of the money goes to prizes, one-third to education, and the remainder to operating and marketing the lottery. The education money funds the HOPE Scholarship, and has become a successful model for other lotteries, including the South Carolina Education Lottery.
Long unconstitutional in a highly conservative U.S. state, a government-run lottery was explicitly allowed in a 1992 constitutional amendment to Article I, Section II, Paragraph VIII of the Georgia State Constitution, approved in a referendum. The GLC was created by a separate bill in 1992 by the Georgia General Assembly, and then-governor of Georgia, Zell Miller, in the Lottery for Education Act (OCGA 50-27). Rebecca Paul, who began the Florida Lottery, then ran the Georgia Lottery for its first decade, before leaving to launch Tennessee Lottery in 2004.
In the mid-1990s, Georgia, then offering Powerball for the first time, joined The Big Game (now Mega Millions) when it began in 1996. Several days after Georgia began selling The Big Game tickets, it was forced to leave the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), which continues to administer Powerball. (In October 2009, an agreement was reached between Mega Millions and the Powerball group allowing Mega Millions and Powerball tickets to be available, simultaneously, by each US lottery. Most lotteries, including Georgia's, offered both games beginning January 31, 2010.
Instant games are scratch tickets also called "scratch-offs". A player scratches a thin film from the ticket to see if the ticket is a winner. The prizes are smaller than other lottery games, but there are better odds. There are dozens of instant games on sale at any time, and the selection of games changes frequently. They range in price from $1 to $20.
Cash 3 is played twice daily. Three machines, each containing balls numbered 0 through 9, are used; one ball is drawn from each machine. Play styles vary: for example, a $1 "straight" bet (a player guesses a three-digit number will be drawn in exact order) pays $500 for a winning ticket. Cash 3 began August 10, 1993. The first Cash 3 numbers that were drawn were 1-7-0.
Cash 4 also is drawn twice daily; it is played similarly to Cash 3, except four ball machines are used. A $1 "straight" wager (see above) wins $5,000 for a winning ticket. Cash 4 began April 6, 1997.
Georgia Five is a 5-digit numbers game. Georgia 5 is drawn twice daily; it has a top prize of $10,000. It was introduced on August 1, 2010. Georgia Five is different from most pick-3 and pick-4 games; players do not choose straight, box, or similar wagers. The top prize is won by matching all five numbers in exact order; a player wins by matching at least the first or last digit (the ways to win are shown here).
Fantasy 5 (with eZmatch option)
Fantasy 5 is a once daily game that draws 5 of 39 numbers. Games are $1 per play. Jackpots begin at $100,000 and increase if there is no top prize winner. Fantasy 5 also has an eZmatch option for an additional $1 per game. Matching the ticket's Fantasy 5 numbers to any of the eZmatch numbers within the ticket wins a cash prize. The eZmatch option can be won up to five times on each ticket. Fantasy 5 has been played since November 14, 1994.
Keno is played every four minutes at many lottery retailers. Twenty numbers from 1 through 80 are selected and displayed on a monitor. Players choose 1 to 10 numbers. Keno has a multiplier option, for an extra $1 per play, that multiplies prizes by 1x, 2x, 3x, 5x or 10x.
Decades of Dollars (4 members)
Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Virginia offer Decades of Dollars. Sales for the game began on January 30, 2011, with the game's first drawing held on February 3. (Arkansas joined on May 3.) Decades of Dollars is drawn Monday and Thursday nights. Unlike Win For Life, where winners automatically received quarterly annuity payments, Decades of Dollars winners can choose lump sum ($4,000,000) instead of the annuity, which is $250,000 yearly in 30 installments. The top prize has a $10,000,000 cash liability. Decades of Dollars games cost $2.
In the first Decades of Dollars drawing, there were no plays winning the top prize, although there were 11 second-prize winners of $10,000 each, including two sold in Georgia. The first top prize for Decades of Dollars was won in the March 5, 2012 drawing; that ticket was produced in Evans, Georgia.
Other US lotteries may eventually join Decades of Dollars.
Mega Millions (44 members)
In the mid-1990s, Georgia helped launch The Big Game (now Mega Millions) when it began in 1996. (Its drawings usually are held in Atlanta.) Mega Millions players choose six numbers for $1; five "white ball" numbers, 1 through 56, and a sixth (Mega Ball) number, 1 through 46. (The Mega Ball number can be a duplicate of a "white ball" number.) The minimum jackpot is $15 million. Mega Millions replaced The Big Game in 2002. The Megaplier option, initially available only in Texas, was made available to Georgia's players on November 7, 2010.
Powerball (44 members)
In October 2009, an agreement was reached allowing Mega Millions and Powerball tickets to be sold through US lotteries then with either game. Georgia, which joined Powerball in 1995, and sold The Big Game and Powerball tickets for a few days in 1996 before being forced out of Powerball, rejoined Powerball on January 31, 2010.
Powerball, which began in 1992, had always been a $1 game (the Power Play option, begun in 2001, costs $2 per play.) In January 2012, the price of a Powerball basic play increased to $2 each, or $3 with Power Play.