Before the advent of government-sponsored lotteries, many illegal lotteries thrived, such as number games. The first modern government-run US lottery was established in Puerto Rico in 1934. This was followed, decades later, by the New Hampshire lottery in 1964. Instant lottery tickets, also known as scratch cards, were introduced in the 1970s and have become a major source of lottery revenue. Individual lotteries often feature three-digit and four-digit games akin to numbers games; a five number game, and a six number game (the latter two often have a jackpot.) Some lotteries also offer at least one game similar to keno, and some offer video lottery terminals. Presently, many US lotteries support public education systems.
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On October 13, 2009, the Mega Millions consortium and Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) reached an agreement in principle to cross-sell Mega Millions and Powerball in American lottery jurisdictions, with the two groups referred to as the "Mega Power Lottery" by many users. The expansion occurred on January 31, 2010, as 23 Powerball members began selling Mega Millions tickets for their first drawing on February 2, 2010; likewise, 10 Mega Millions members began selling Powerball tickets for their first drawing the next day. Montana (joining Mega Millions on March 1, 2010) was the first jurisdiction to add either game after the cross-sell expansion. Nebraska (March 20, 2010), Oregon (March 28, 2010), Arizona (April 18, 2010), Maine (May 9, 2010), Colorado and South Dakota (the latter two on May 16, 2010) also have joined Mega Millions since the expansion.
The conditions for Florida joining Powerball included a move of the live drawings from Iowa to Universal Studios in Orlando. The three hosts rotating announcing duties from Universal Studios were Tracy Wiu, Elizabeth Hart and Scott Adams (MUSL headquarters remained in Iowa, where its other draws are held). The wheel that was used to determine the Power Play multiplier was retired when the drawings moved to Florida; a random number generator (RNG) was used until the 2012 format change.
Lottery winners can choose to receive the money in either an annuity — annual allotments over 30 years — or to get it all at once in a single payment for a smaller amount. For example, the lump sum on the $502 million jackpot would be $301 million, according to lottery site USAMega.com. If a single winner takes the single payment, the federal tax withholding would be over $75 million. Then, there are state taxes too.
In 1998, Florida was given permission by its government to participate in a multi-state game. It was set to offer Powerball; but in early 1999, new governor Jeb Bush prevented Florida from joining since he believed Powerball would hurt the existing Florida Lottery games. In 2008, Governor Charlie Crist finally allowed Florida to join MUSL, on Jan 4, 2009.
Powerball winnings in California and Pennsylvania are subject to Federal income tax only. There is no state income tax in Florida, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming, and only on interest and dividends in Tennessee and New Hampshire. Winnings from tickets purchased outside of one's home state may be subject to the income tax laws of both states (with possible credit based on the two jurisdictions.)
This method specifically has faced criticism recently from a number of lottery organizers such as Camelot, the UK National Lottery organizers who are not happy with companies “selling tickets” (selling bets on outcomes of their established lottery draws) for prices sometimes even cheaper than Camelot themselves sells their tickets. This legal and corporate dispute looks set to continue for the foreseeable future, in the mean time you can continue to buy Powerball tickets online, only now you are aware of the key differences between the two business models.