Playing The Lottery FAQ
Can I buy Lottery tickets with credit or debit cards?
Administrative regulations do not prohibit the use of credit cards to purchase Lottery products. Even though regulations allow credit cards to be used to purchase Lottery tickets, retailers can decide what form of payment they will accept and some do not accept credit cards to buy Lottery tickets. Regulations do prevent retailers from extending individual store credit for the purchase of Lottery tickets.
Can I purchase Lottery tickets over the phone or by mail?
Louisiana Lottery tickets must be sold from the physical liscened retail location listed. By law, tickets cannot be sold by phone, fax, mail or other similar method. Selling Lottery tickets across state or national borders also violates federal law.
Can retailers choose which products to sell or how much to charge?
No. Retailers provided an optimal product mix for the retailer to maximize revenue based on the demographics of the stores' customer base and traffic. Also, administrative law prevents retailers from selling tickets at a price other than what is established by the corporation, nor may retailers charge a surcharge to cash winning tickets.
How are winning tickets redeemed?
Winning tickets of more than $600 must be claimed at a Lottery office. Lotto jackpots and Powerball prizes of at least $510,000 must be claimed at Lottery headquarters. Draw-style game winners have 180 days from the drawing to claim their prize and scratch-off winners have 90 days from the date of the announced game closure. By law, the Louisiana Lottery must report winnings from each single ticket with a prize value over $600 to the Internal Revenue Service and the Louisiana Department of Revenue and Taxation. Income tax regulations require the Lottery to withhold 25 percent federal taxes from each prize over $5,000 and 5 percent state taxes from prizes of $5,000 or more. There are several different ways to determine a ticket's winning value. Winning combinations of all Lottery games can be found on this website. Retailers can also scan players' tickets to determine any winnings and provide a receipt to players as to the ticket's value. Players are advised to sign the back of their tickets as a security measure. Records of winnings including winners' names and city of residence are considered public information. All winnings become a part of the estate of the deceased in the event of death.
How can I tell how much I've won?
Once you know what winning numbers were drawn or have finished scratching your scratch-off, there are several different ways to find out whether your ticket is a winner and if so, how much you have won. The Lottery recommends that players familiarize themselves with all of the winning combinations of the particular game that they are playing. These can be found on all the game pages of this website. Also, "How to Play" brochures located in the Lottery's play centers at Lottery retailers describe how each draw-style game is won.
Finally, retailers can scan your ticket to determine whether it is a winner. Watch the Customer Display Unit when having your ticket checked. It will tell you whether or not your ticket is a winner and if so, the winning amount. For tickets that win more than $600 (the maximum amount a retailer can cash), the display will direct you to a Lottery office to claim your prize. You can also ask the retailer to provide you with a Validation Receipt confirming the value of your ticket. Even if you are unsure if your ticket is a winner, it is a good idea to sign it.
How long do you have to claim a prize?
Winning scratch-off tickets can be claimed up to 90 days following the closure of the game. A list of closed games and end-of-redemption dates can be found on this website. Winning draw-style game tickets can be claimed up to 180 days following the drawing in which the prize was won.
How old do you have to be to play?
According to state law, Lottery ticket purchasers must be at least 21 years of age. Individuals who sell tickets are required to obtain proof of age through a valid current drivers' license, a state issued ID card, a passport, or military or federal ID containing both a photo and date of birth. Any person who knowingly sells to a minor can be fined between $100 and $500 for the first offense and $200 to $1,000 for each subsequent offense. Underage purchasers can also be fined not more than $100. The Lottery's retailer regulations hold retailers responsible for their employees' adherence to this law and retailer contracts can be suspended, revoked or terminated if retailers are found not to be compliant. Individuals who are at least 21 years of age can give Lottery tickets to a person under the minimum age as a gift, although minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian or a family member who is at least 21 years of age in order to claim a Lottery prize. Underage people can sell Lottery tickets if they meet the minimum employment age of 14 and are employed by a licensed Lottery retailer. The 21 minimum age requirement to purchase Lottery tickets changed from 18 years of age in 1998 to coincide with the age requirement for other forms of gaming in the state. Louisiana is one of only a few states that require Lottery ticket purchasers to be at least 21 years of age. Most states with lotteries have a minimum age requirement of 18.
I purchased four scratch-offs where the odds were 1 in 4. I didn't win anything. Why is that?
Published game odds apply to the entire game overall. They do not mean, in this case, that every fourth ticket is a winner. Lottery games are games of chance, so winning scratch-off tickets are randomly distributed throughout the game. Just imagine what would happen to the integrity of Lottery games if it was known which tickets were winners prior to their sale.
When can I purchase tickets for the Lottery's games?
Lottery tickets can be purchased 24 hours a day, seven days a week, subject to the retailer's business hours of operation. On the night of a drawing, the system takes a draw break for the games that will be drawn that evening. During a game draw break, tickets for those games cannot be purchased. For Powerball and Mega Millions, the draw break lasts from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the date of the drawing. For all other draw-style games, such as Pick 3, Pick 4, Easy 5 and Lotto, the draw break starts at 9:30 and last only a few minutes. Again, draw breaks only occur on the night of the drawing. Any tickets purchased after the draw break are good for the next regularly scheduled drawing.
When do you remove a scratch-off game from sale?
As soon as all of the top prizes in a game have been claimed, the Lottery immediately begins the process of pulling tickets from retailer shelves and closing the game. Games may also be closed when all of the tickets have been substantially sold or at the discretion of the Lottery's president.
Who is restrited from playing the Lottery? Can retailers play?
Currently, the law does not restrict retailers from playing the Lottery. Under Louisiana Lottery law (LA RS 47:9025) those prohibited from playing the Louisiana Lottery include members of the board of directors, officers and employees, as well as any spouse, child, brother, sister, or parent residing in their same household; and those under the age of 21.
Why is it that sometimes I cannot purchase a particular number for Pick 3 or Pick 4?
On occasion, certain popular Pick 3 and Pick 4 numbers may "sell out" and cannot be purchased. Unlike other draw-style Lottery games, Pick 3 and Pick 4 pay out an established prize regardless of how many tickets are winners. In order to adequately fund these fixed prizes, the Lottery establishes a prize liability limit on these games and restricts sales of tickets for such drawings if the liability limit would be exceeded by the drawing of any particular numbers. Liability limits usually take effect when a large number of people have chosen a certain number, such as 9-1-1 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack or 2-0-0-0 when the millennium ended. There is no need for sales restrictions on Easy 5, Lotto, Mega Millions and Powerball numbers, since jackpots are pari-mutuel, meaning the jackpot is divided equally among all its winners.