The two different methods, both offer you, the player, the same user experience and the only difference is in the back end of how the online lottery ticket provider works. The two methods that online lottery sites use differ in one key way; They either have agents and employees all over the world that physically purchase tickets on behalf of clients or, the more recent phenomenon is when companies essentially take out an insurance policy on every ticket which is tied to the size of the jackpot. This is the difference between you playing the lottery online and betting on the lottery online*. In the latter option you are, de facto, not playing the US Powerball online but rather you are placing a bet with an insurance company on the outcome of the corresponding Powerball draw.
Some retailers that sit on state lines often offer both state lotteries with state boundaries clearly marked, since such sales still have to occur in the physical state it is offered. One retailer located along U.S. Route 62that is largely in Sharon, Pennsylvania but has a small portion lying inMasury, Ohio sells both the Ohio Lottery and the Pennsylvania Lotteryat one location. The first modern US joint-state lottery game was formed in 1985 inMaine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. In 1988, the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) was formed with Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon,Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia as its charter members; it is best known for Powerball, which was designed to create large jackpots. Another joint lottery, The Big Game (now called Mega Millions), was formed in 1996 by six other lotteries as its charter members.
Powerball numbers are drawn from two sets of numbers, so the odds of winning a prize are calculated by combining the odds for both sets of numbers for all prize levels. The odds for matching just the Powerball are calculated by combining the odds of selecting the Powerball and the odds of not selecting any of the five numbers from the first set of numbers drawn.
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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.
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.