How Playing the Lottery Went Mobile
It seems like the perfect match – playing the lottery and using a smartphone to do it. After all, it is often an impulsive decision that convinces customers to buy lottery tickets. Walking around with a mobile device lets people make that sort of decision on the go. When lotteries offer jackpot prizes that can reach as high as $1.58 billion, lines at retailers can grow quite long. As a result, there is a growing demand to be able to play the lottery on mobile phones.
Even so, it may come as a surprise that it is not alwayspossible to purchase tickets to the biggest lotteries with your phone. The technology certainly exists, but legal restrictions and regulations often serve as a buffer between what is possible and what is actually allowed.
It should be noted that there is a difference between navigating on a mobile phone to a website to make an online purchase and using a dedicated app for a specific type of purchase. When playing the lottery, there is also a need for a physical lottery ticket, something not usually available with online purchases.
This gap is bridged by lottery ticket courier services like theLotter, which purchase physical tickets on behalf of their customers. Using a go-between for lottery playis possible with a smartphone while most lottery operators do not offer such a service.
Let’s take a look at what some official lottery operatorsmake available to their mobile customers.
The slogan of the official Illinois Lottery app is ‘Anything is possible’. You can use the app to purchase tickets for the Powerball, Mega Millions, Lotto, and other lottery games. Subscriptions to favorite lotteries are possible and winnings under $600 are deposited directly into players’ Illinois Lottery online accounts. One restriction exists, though. You need to be physically in the state of Illinois to use the app.
A similar app is offered by the Georgia Lottery; it allows lottery play only in the state of Georgia. Online play includes purchase of Fantasy 5, Mega Millions, Powerball, and Keno tickets. Lottery winnings up to and including $5,000 are deposited automatically into players’ accounts.
The National Lottery in the UK has two different Android apps. One is just for checking draw results while the full app allows players to play the lottery as well. The full app is downloadable only on the National Lottery’s website as Google doesn’t allow any real money lottery apps in its store. Playing the National Lottery on a mobile phone has been available for some time. Payments are made by Direct Debit or by using Barclay’s mobile payment service Pingit. Players must be physically located in the UK to play.
Lottery players in Mexico have been buying their lottery tickets directly from their cell phones since January 2010. At that time, mobile marketing firm Up-Mobile Corporationlaunched a solution enabling mobile users to buy lottery tickets and see draw results by sending an SMS.
The apps of other lottery operators have yet to begin offering the actual purchase of lottery tickets. For example, the California Lottery’s official app gives you the “lottery at your fingertips”. The app scans winning Scratchers, SuperLotto Plus, and Fantasy 5 2nd Chance codes; provides details of the last 25 submissions, and checks winning numbers and jackpot amounts for players’ favorite draw games. But, no actual game play.
The Maryland Lottery mobile app lets you “take the Maryland Lottery with you” with convenient features such as checking winning numbers, scanning tickets to see if you’re a winner, and seeing current jackpots as well as the location of nearby lottery retailers. But again, no purchase of lottery tickets is available.
At a time when smartphones are the primary device for internet access, and with more and more transactions being conducted with cashless payments, it is highly likely that additional official lotteries will soon allow mobile lottery play. After all, selecting the numbers for a lottery draw is as simple as pushing those numbers on your phone.