The Kentucky Lottery, consisting of various games of chance, is a government-regulated form of gambling. The Lottery began in April 1989 after a November 1988 vote in which over 60% of voters cast ballots in favor of it. On April 4, 1989, ticket sales began with first day sales of over $5 million for the two available instant games. The first two games were scratch-off tickets, Beginner's Luck ($1) and Kentucky Derby Dreamstakes ($2). Like all state lotteries in the US, the minimum age to play is 18.
The first legally authorized "lottery" in Kentucky was held in 1792 in order to raise funds to build a church in Lexington.
A modern lottery was a highly debated topic in the gubernatorial race of 1987. Wallace G. Wilkinson, who went on to become governor, touted the introduction of a state lottery in a heavily funded campaign that ended up being one of the biggest gubernatorial victories in Kentucky history.
As the incumbent Lieutenant Governor, Steve Beshear opposed the lottery in the 1987 race. Ironically, 20 years later, Beshear became Governor-Elect after running on a platform in support of legalized gambling in Kentucky in the 2007 race against Ernie Fletcher.
Current Draw Games
In-house draw games
Pick 3 is drawn 13 times weekly (one drawing Sundays). Prices, prizes, and options vary. A 50¢ straight bet can win $300.
Pick 4 is also drawn 13 times weekly. Prices, prizes, and options vary. The maximum prize is $2,500 on a 50¢ straight ticket.
Kentucky Cash Ball is drawn daily, except Sundays. Cash Ball uses a 4+1 matrix (Mega Millions and Powerball each use a 5+1 matrix). Cash Ball draws four numbers from 1 through 33, followed by the Cash Ball (numbered 1 through 31). Players can choose: two games for $1, with a top prize of $100,000; or $1 per game, for a top prize of $200,000. Additionally, Cash Ball has a Kicker option; players can wager an additional 50 cents to win $5,000, or $1 to win $10,000.
5 Card Cash
The final 3 Line Lotto drawing was February 10, 2012; it was replaced by 5 Card Cash, a poker-themed game, which also is $2 per play and drawn by RNG. (A similar game had been offered in Delaware.) 5 Card Cash is a draw game where players can win instantly if the five "cards" make up a ranked poker hand.
Lucky for Life
In 2009, Connecticut began an in-state game called Lucky-4-Life. Three years later, now called Lucky for Life, it became a six-state regional game.
On January 27, 2015, after two more format changes, Lucky for Life became a quasi-national game, adding eight lotteries; the District of Columbia became the game's 15th member on February 15. Kentucky is LFL's 16th and newest member, joining on March 22.
Players choose 5 of 48 white balls, and a "Lucky Ball" from a second set of 18 numbers. Top prize is $1,000-per-day-for-life; second prize is $25,000-per-year. Winners of either "lifetime" prize can choose cash in lieu of the annuity payments. LFL continues to be drawn at Connecticut Lottery headquarters using two drawing machines and colored balls.
Mega Millions began in 1996 as The Big Game in six states. Six years later, the game added Mega Millions to its name; months later, The Big Game name was retired.
Kentucky joined Mega Millions on January 31, 2010 as part of the game's biggest expansion.
The current version of Mega Millions began in 2013. Players choose 5 of 75 white balls, and an orange-colored "Mega Ball" from a second set of 15 numbers. Games are $1 each; a game with the Megaplier option costs $2. Jackpot winners choose between 30 graduated annual payments or its cash option. Mega Millions is drawn Tuesdays and Fridays.
Since 1991, Kentucky has been a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), best known for Powerball, which began in 1992. Powerball is drawn Wednesday and Saturday nights. On October 13, 2009 the Mega Millions consortium and MUSL reached an agreement in principle to cross-sell Mega Millions and Powerball.
Former multi-state games
Decades of Dollars
Georgia, Kentucky, and Virginia launched Decades of Dollars in January 2011, with Arkansas joining that May. The game ended as a Virginia-only game and held its final drawing April 30, 2015. The other three states ended DoD as part of the launch of Monopoly Millionaires' Club on October 19, 2014.
Monopoly Millionaires' Club
Monopoly Millionaires' Club (MMC) began as a drawing game in 22 states and the District of Columbia on October 19, 2014. Drawn Fridays, sales were suspended after only 10 drawings because of poor sales due to player confusion over the game's multiple components.
MMC returned as a scratch-off game in Kentucky on April 30, 2015. Tied to MMC is a television game show (first broadcast on March 28), whose contestants and audience members won trips-for-two to Las Vegas to participate in the show. Future contestants and audience members will be chosen from the scratch-off game, which will become available through most of the MMC draw-game lotteries.
- Scratch-offs (ticket prices $1 to $20)