Illinois Online Lottery
One of the most widely available forms of gambling in the Prairie State is Illinois Lottery.
Between thousands of retailers around the state and online sales options, buying a ticket for a number of lotto games is easy. Anyone in the state who is at least 18 years of age, whether an Illinois resident or not, can play.
And as of November 2021, it is possible to play certain fast-play games online. Illinois Lottery offers a menu of draw-style and instant-win games but offers tickets for popular multi-state games as well. On this page, we’ll explain all the various types of games and how to play them.
In addition, we’ll highlight what to do if you win, how to get help with play if you need it and go over a little bit of how the lottery came to be in Illinois. With all the information here, you’ll be ready to maximize your enjoyment of playing the lottery.
Some of the most popular lottery games to play are run by the Multi-State Lottery Association office. These are draw-style games that offer the biggest jackpots in the country, including:
- Mega Millions: This game costs $2 to play and has biweekly drawings on Tuesdays and Fridays. This game has several prize levels, including a progressive jackpot that has escalated into nine or 10 figures in the past.
- Powerball: This title is almost identical to the above, except that the drawings take place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. You can multiply the value of your non-jackpot prizes for both of these titles by spending an extra dollar.
What does the multiplier mean?
Mega Millions and Powerball both have the option to add a multiplier to your ticket for an extra dollar. The benefit of doing this is it can make your non-jackpot prizes worth more. The value of the multiplier fluctuates from drawing to drawing.
For example, matching three numbers in Mega Millions without the “MegaPlier” pays $10. However, matching three numbers with the “MegaPlier” can be worth $20 to $50, depending on which multiple comes up in the drawing. Note that you can’t pay more for a bigger multiplier. Also, buying the multiplier doesn’t improve your chances of winning. The multiplier doesn’t apply if you win the progressive jackpot, either.
Illinois-only lottery draws
- Lotto: This $2 ticket asks you to pick six numbers between 1-52, or you can let the computer randomly select numbers for you. You can add the “Extra Shot” for another $1. Prizes start at $5 for matching the “Extra Shot” number. Matching all six numbers nets the progressive jackpot. Drawings take place Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9:22 p.m. CST.
- Lucky Day Lotto: If you’re looking to maximize your chances of winning, this is the game for you. Drawings for this title take place twice a day (12:40 p.m. and 9:22 p.m. CST), seven days a week. Picking five numbers between 1 and 45 will cost you $1. Match two of the five numbers to win your dollar back, or hit all five to net the progressive jackpot. You can also add the “EZ Match” option for another dollar, with a chance to win up to $5,000.
- Pick 3: As the name suggests, pick three numbers to win. You can play for 50 cents or $1. Drawings take place twice daily. Top prizes are $250 or $500, depending on which level you play at. The “Fireball” add-on can multiply your win and turn a non-winning ticket into a winner as well.
- Pick 4: This is an expansion of Pick 3, upping the stakes. A 50-cent play can win up to $2,500 or a $1 draw up to $5,000. The “Fireball” option is available here as well.
Illinois Lotto is $2
Effective April 1, 2021, The Illinois Lottery doubled the price of a ticket for the Lotto game. It now costs $2, instead of $1. However, it comes with additional drawings and improved odds.
You can add the Extra Shot for another $1 per line if you prefer. The gameplay is mostly the same; you still have to pick six numbers or opt for a Quick Pick. The object is still to match as many of the numbers on your ticket to the drawing as possible.
The odds are a bit better now, though. The pool of numbers shrank from 1-52 to 1-50. For that reason, your odds of winning any prize are now 1:6.9 when you play the game.
Along with the odds upgrade, your ticket enters you into three drawings.
What is Fast Play?
Fast Play is available online and at retail locations, and it’s the quickest way to win a prize playing the lottery in Illinois. Tickets range in price from $1 to $10. You can buy them online or at any lottery vending machine. The speed of the play is borne out in that you don’t have to pick any numbers, scratch anything or wait on a drawing to find out if you win.
As soon as the screen or machine dispenses your ticket, you can find out whether or not it’s a winner. Prizes include progressive jackpots soaring into the six-figure range and the games refresh every two minutes.
Instant win tickets
If you enjoy the thrill of scratching off a ticket to reveal a prize, then the Illinois lottery has a lot of options for you. Prices for these tickets range from $1 to $30, with prizes escalating appropriately. You can get them at any lottery retailer or vending machine.
The lottery does have some games that are only available seasonally. Additionally, some games donate their profits to certain charitable causes, like the Carolyn Adams Ticket for the Cure title. The proceeds from that game fund breast cancer-related programs.
Illinois Lottery app
One of the most convenient ways to play the lottery is on your mobile device through the Illinois Lottery app. The app is available for Android and Apple devices. On it, you can play draw-style games, and:
- Check drawing results
- Check physical tickets to see if they’re winners
- Get updates on progressive jackpot roll increases
- Instantly claim winnings of $600 or less
While you can’t play instant win games on the app, you can check your tickets to see if they’re winners. Fast Play is also not available through the app.
How to claim lottery winnings
How you purchased your ticket is important for claiming a winning a lottery ticket. How much you won is also a crucial factor in determining the method you need to employ. Full details of each path are here. To sum things up, though, the following is important:
- If you bought your ticket online and the prize is $600 or less, the lottery will automatically credit your account with your winnings.
- If you bought your ticket in person and the prize is $600 or less, you can claim it at any lottery retailer.
For prizes of $601 to $999,999, you can make an appointment at a claim center or use the mail to claim your prize. If you win a prize of $1 million or more, you need to call 217-524-5147. In all of these cases, you’ll need to provide the lottery with a valid government-issued photo ID, proof of your full Social Security number, the original and signed ticket, along with a completed claim packet.
Illinois Lottery e-claims portal
As of May 21, 2021, you can cash in your lottery tickets online via an online portal. Visit the Illinois Lottery’s website and click on the “When You Win” tab. You must submit a claim form along with a scanned image/photo of the front and back of your winning ticket. Winnings are sent via checks by mail to the address provided within three to four weeks.
Illinois lottery claim center locations:
- Chicago Prize Center: 69 W. Washington Suite LL06, Chicago, IL 60601
- Des Plaines Lottery Claim Center: 9511 Harrison St., Des Plaines, IL 60016
- Fairview Heights Lottery Claim Center: 15 Executive Drive, Fairview Heights, IL 62208
- (NEW) George W. Dunne Cook County Office Building: 69 W. Washington St., Chicago IL 60602
- Lottery Headquarters: Willard Ice Building (Dept. Of Revenue) 101 West Jefferson Street in Springfield, IL 62702
- Rockford Lottery Claim Center: 200 S. Wyman St., Rockford IL 61101
Illinois lottery pool 101
Lottery games are pure chance. There’s nothing you can do to improve your odds of winning a lottery prize other than buying more tickets. That can get expensive, though. A good way to improve your odds while staying within your budget is to pool your resources with others. While you will have to share any prize, a share of a prize is better than no prize.
If you are part of such a group, you’ll need to designate someone to manage your pool for you. These duties include collecting the money and buying the tickets. If you do win, the procedure is quite similar to winning an individual prize.
One of the reasons you need a group manager is that only one person can claim prizes of $600 or less. For prizes of $601 to $999,999, you can claim it as a group if you complete a Form 5754 and a winner questionnaire.
If your prize is $1 million or more, contacting the lottery is pertinent. Enlisting the services of an accountant, attorney and financial adviser is crucial as well. That way, everything is on the up and up for everyone in the group.
What about Claude the hamster?
Claude is a hamster that Illinois Lottery employed as a “mascot” of sorts in 2020. The marketing campaign included a live feed of Claude, in which visitors could watch him interact with a number of objects. The lottery also gave visitors a chance to win free scratch-off tickets. His YouTube channel is still online.
If you encounter any issues playing the lottery, there are several ways to seek assistance. Via email, you can reach out to [email protected]. You can also call the lottery player hotline at 800-252-1775.
How to recognize lottery fraud/scams
Illinois Lottery has several helpful tips that will steer you clear of any scams involving the lottery. The most important thing to remember is that lottery games are that of pure chance. There’s nothing you can do to improve your odds of winning. Anyone who is selling a “shortcut” is trying to rip you off. Other signs of fraud to watch out for include:
- Unsolicited requests for any personal information.
- A demand for an upfront payment to process a prize claim.
- Selling early access to winning numbers.
History of the Illinois lottery
The lottery is approaching half-a-century of operation in the Prairie State. Over that time, the lottery has gone through many expansions and provided billions of dollars worth of funding for several state programs. Below is a condensed timeline:
- July 30, 1974: First tickets go on sale.
- Oct. 21, 1975: First scratch-off tickets go on sale.
- June 30, 1985: Lottery announces annual sales over $1 billion for the first time.
- July 18, 1994: The first vending machines go live inside retailers’ locations.
- May 1, 2000: The lottery eclipses $1 billion in transfers to the Common School Fund.
- May 15, 2002: First multi-state lottery corporation tickets go on sale in IL.
- June 30, 2007: Sales eclipse $2 billion in a fiscal year for the first time.
Yes, the lottery is overseen by the state through the Illinois Department of Revenue. As long as you’re purchasing a ticket from the lottery directly or a licensed retailer, you can be confident that the tickets you’re buying are genuine. While you may not win any prizes, you can be sure you have the stated odds.
It depends on which game you are playing and which prize you seek. As a general rule, the more expensive your play is, the better your odds. Also, the larger the prize is, the longer your odds.
That money gets added to the Common School Fund‘s distribution each year. All Illinois Lottery games have a finite window during which you can claim a prize. That’s why it’s important to check your plays as soon as possible. Once the expiration date passes, you won’t receive any of the winnings.
The Illinois lottery app can help you find a retailer near you, but you can also purchase draw-style tickets online if you wish. Many types of businesses can sell lottery tickets in the state, including convenience stores, grocers, liquor stores and truck stops.
The short answer is yes, eventually, because you can’t claim a prize on an unsigned lottery ticket. However, you may not want to do that immediately. If you have won a large prize, say six or more figures, you might want to hold off until you consult an attorney. The reason for this is that you may be able to take advantage of some legal entitlements to afford yourself some level of anonymity in claiming your prize. Once you sign your name, you forfeit that chance.