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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.
For that reason, Brent Kramer, a research associate at the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonprofit research and policy organization, and others call lotteries a “regressive tax” by offering the poor a rich fantasy. “If the promised return is by far illusory — and it is — it would be hard to argue that those purchases do not constitute a tax on those who believe the state’s hype,” Kramer wrote in a 2010 paper. In the event that someone did win the latest $700 million Powerball lottery, Bernal says it will be “the single biggest redistribution of wealth” since, well, the January 2016 Powerball.
Changes to the Mega Millions game matrix were introduced, meaning the jackpots will likely get bigger more often, and players have a better chance of winning the second-tier prize of $1 million (without the Megaplier). Certain states can now take advantage of the Just the Jackpot feature, which allows players to buy a ticket ($3 for two lines) that gives them a chance of winning the jackpot if they match 5 + 1, but no prizes if they match anything less than that.
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.