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Lotto America is an American multi-state lottery game that began in 2017. It is operated by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). It takes its name from the original Lotto America, offered from 1988 to 1992. Lotto America was re-launched by 13 state lotteries on November 12, 2017. Plays are $1 each (or $2 with the All-Star Bonus option; see below.) Lotto America replaced the scandal-tarred Hot Lotto game; each of the 13 members of Lotto America offered Hot Lotto when it ended on October 28, 2017.
Creation of MUSL
Lotto America was the first lottery game offered by MUSL. In 1987, six states and the District of Columbia banded together, since, on their own, they could not create jackpots into the tens of millions of dollars that had become commonplace in the most popular single-state lottery games. MUSL's first game was called "Lotto America" even though only those seven jurisdictions took part. The first Lotto America drawing was in 1988.
Lotto America lasted until April 1992, when it was replaced with Powerball. MUSL retained the rights to the Lotto America name; a new version of the game was launched on November 12, 2017 with the first drawing held November 15. The new Lotto America replaced the scandal-tarred Hot Lotto game.
Original Lotto America (1988–1992)
The original version of Lotto America (stylized as Lotto☆America) was a $1-per-play, pick-7-of-40 game, rather than the pick-6 games that had become wildly popular in U.S. lotteries. Matching four numbers won a fixed prize of $5; matching at least five won a parimutuel prize. Matching all seven won the jackpot, whose odds were roughly 1 in 18 million, at the time the longest odds of a U.S. lottery game. The top prize was a 20-year annuity; there was never a cash option, even though a few games did offer one when L*A ended.
During the middle of its four-year run, LA became a more traditional pick-6-of-54 game; unlike the first version, players got two games for $1. The jackpot odds actually became more favorable at 1 in 13 million per dollar; however, overall odds were much tougher, since four numbers were still needed to win the lowest prize tier. This version was entirely parimutuel.
Several states joined MUSL during the era of LA. One of them, Maine, decided to leave MUSL when LA ended; Maine did not rejoin MUSL until 2004.
MUSL's rapidly growing population base resulted in the replacement of Lotto America in April 1992 with Powerball, which had then-unheard of jackpot odds of 1 in 55 million. However, the unique structure of the new game allowed players to win by matching just one number.
Due to falling sales of Hot Lotto (whose final drawing was October 28, 2017), a new version of Lotto America became available on November 12, 2017; its first drawing was November 15, 2017. Lotto America is available wherever Hot Lotto was offered at the time of its final drawing (except New Hampshire.) Lotto America is drawn on Wednesday and Saturday nights after 11 p.m. ET/10 p.m. CT. For each $1 play, bettors choose five numbers from 1 through 52, and a "star ball" numbered from 1 through 10, or ask for terminal-generated numbers. For an additional $1 per play, the bettor can add the "All-Star Bonus" option, which multiplies non-jackpot prizes by 2, 3, 4, or 5. The minimum Lotto America jackpot is $2 million; however, the game's initial jackpot was $15 million; the 13 members chose to augment the jackpot with funds from Hot Lotto, whose final jackpot was not won.
While Hot Lotto used a random number generator during most of its run (including the December 2010 drawing whose jackpot was "won" by Eddie Tipton, a MUSL employee), Lotto America is believed to be drawn in Tallahassee, Florida (even though the Florida Lottery does not offer the game), using physical ball machines and numbered balls; one machine draws the five main numbers while another is used to draw the "Star Ball". As of December 2018, none of the actual drawings have been made available to the viewing public; a computer-generated display of the drawings is shown on an unofficial website.
Lotto America members (1988–1992)
- Delaware (January 1991)
- District of Columbia §
- Idaho (February 1990)
- Indiana (October 1990)
- Iowa §
- Kansas §
- Kentucky (January 1991)
- Maine (July 1990)
- Minnesota (August 1990)
- Missouri §
- Montana (November 1989)
- Oregon §
- Rhode Island §
- South Dakota (November 1990)
- West Virginia §
- Wisconsin (August 1989)
§ The seven founding members of MUSL, which composed the original lineup for Lotto America. The game began in 1988; dates when other lotteries joined are shown in parentheses.
Except for Maine, the above lotteries were the original lineup for Powerball when it began in April 1992.
2017 revival members (13)
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- Note: these 13 members were among Hot Lotto's membership when it ended on October 28, 2017. New Hampshire, the other Hot Lotto member when the game ended, has put off plans to join Lotto America.
- "Hot Lotto to stop selling tickets, North Dakota Lottery says". Grand Forks Herald. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
- "Lotto America coming to South Dakota in November". Watertown Public Opinion. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
- Mercer, Bob. "Lotto commission adds new game, increases ticket prices". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
- "Lotto.net - Lotto America Draw Schedule". Lotto.net. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
- "Lottery.net How to Play Lotto America". Lottery.net. Retrieved 27 October 2017.