What is the California Lottery?

The state of California launched its popular state lottery in 1985. Today there are seven draw games to choose from, as well as the Hot Spot game. This keno-style game has a draw every four minutes, from 6:00 am to 2:00 am. Players in California can buy tickets for the two major multi-state draws, Powerball and Mega Millions, as well as for local games. State-only draws include SuperLotto Plus, Fantasy 5, Daily Four, Daily Three, and Daily Derby. Whilst SuperLotto Plus has just two draws a week, the rest of the local draws have at least one per day. Although the state lottery in California has an overall average payout of just over 64%, there is no state tax on winnings. As well as tickets for lottery draw games, players can also buy instant win scratch cards (Scratchers) from official lottery stockists.

How can I play the California state lottery?

Like many other US states, you can only buy a California lottery ticket in person from an official stockist. This means you don’t need to be Californian or even a US resident to play. Find your nearest stockist by navigating to the ‘Where to Play’ page on the official lottery website.

Players must be 18 or over to buy a lottery ticket or scratch card in California. Winners must claim lottery prizes within 180 days of the draw and all wins that exceed $5000 are subject to federal tax of 24%. Scratcher winners must also claim within 180 days of the published game end date. Although players can cash prizes of up to $599 at any official lottery stockist, it’s only possible to claim prizes of over $599 by mail or at a Lottery District Office.

How much can I win?

Multi-state draws, such as the Powerball or Mega Millions, boast the biggest jackpots. These are regularly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and sometimes even billions. The biggest state-only lottery is the SuperLotto Plus, which typically has jackpots of around $35k. Players who win the jackpot can choose to receive their winnings as a lump sum or a cash annuity.

California Lottery results

It’s easy to find out the winning numbers for any draw. Both the official lottery website and the mobile app display current and past winning numbers. Alternatively, you can scan your tickets using the handy Check-A-Ticket function on the app. Check-A-Ticket machines are also at official lottery stockists. Local newspapers publish the results of both state and multi-state lotteries, whilst national newspapers publish the Powerball and Mega Millions results.

Strategy when playing the California Lottery

All lottery draws have a random outcome. This means the only strategy to increase your chances of winning is to buy more tickets. However, this comes at a financial cost and the potential risk of gambling dependency. The safest way to increase your chances of winning is to enter a lottery syndicate. Make sure you understand how much you would receive once the winnings get shared.

Benefits of playing the California Lottery

One of the biggest benefits of playing the Californian state lottery is that wins are not subject to state tax. As one of the most populated states in the USA, there’s also a high number of ticket sales, which can drive up the jackpot amounts. California is also the only state which has variable non-jackpot winnings in both the Powerball and the Mega Millions games. This means a second-tier winner in California can win more than a second-tier winner from another state. As well as a choice of several draws and scratch cards, players in California can enjoy a 2nd Chance on SuperLotto Plus, non-winning Scratchers, and Fantasy 5 tickets. When you buy a lottery ticket or Scratcher in California, you are also helping to fund the public school system.

Cons of playing the California Lottery

The payout of the Californian lottery is just over 64%, which is around average for the US, but sadly some way below the payouts of Idaho, Massachusetts, or North Dakota. All lottery and instant win playing carry a risk of gambling dependency. You can mitigate this risk by setting yourself play limits and tracking your gaming history. Like many states, it’s not possible to buy tickets online. Although there is no state tax, there is still a federal tax of 24% on big wins.

Summary of California Lottery

With a 0% state tax rate on all wins and high jackpots, there are many excellent reasons to play the lottery in California. There’s also an excellent choice of games, including 2nd Chance draws and Scratchers. Uniquely, players in California can enjoy variable wins on all tiers of the big multi-state draws. Like most states, players can only buy scratch cards and lottery tickets in person, but they can still use the app to check their numbers using the excellent Check-A-Ticket function.