How to Playthe Powerball Lottery

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To play Powerball, you must fill in a draw ticket by choosing five main numbers up to 69 and a sixth 'Powerball' number from 1-26. You also have the option to add Power Play to your ticket for an extra cost. Power Play will multiply smaller prizes you could win - learn more about that further down.

For the main draw, tickets are priced at US $2 and you can win by matching 3-5 main draw numbers even if you don't match the Powerball. If you do match the Powerball, you've definitely won a prize, as there are payouts for matching anywhere between zero and all five of the main draw numbers.

To win the jackpot - which is often the biggest in the world - you'll need to match all five main draw numbers and the Powerball. This is unlike most other lotteries where the second pot is a 'bonus ball' or a second chance to win. On Powerball, it's just as important as any other number on your ticket (and arguably more so).

PowerPlay

PowerPlay is your chance to boost any non-jackpot prizes you win and it only costs an extra US $1 per ticket. The Power Play is drawn using a random number generator (RNG). One selection is made from a pool of 42 balls, each marked with a multiplier amount: 24 marked 2x, 13 marked 3x, three marked 4x, two marked 5x, and a single 10x multiplier which is added as well if the jackpot for that draw is below US $150 million.

If you win a non-jackpot prize in the main draw, and have selected the Power Play option on your ticket, then you are guaranteed to have your prize increased according to the multiple on the ball drawn - up to an impressive 10x. The only exception to this is if you match five numbers, when the increased prize is fixed at US $2 million.

Rule Changes

Changes to the Powerball game rules came into effect on October 4th 2015 for the October 7th draw. The changes reduced the chances of a jackpot win and improved the chances of winning any other prize as the table below illustrates. The changes ensured that the Powerball jackpot grows faster and higher that it did prior to the October 7th 2015 draw.

Draws Main Number Range Powerball Number Range Winning Jackpot Odds Winning Any Prize Odds
Pre October 7th 2015 1 - 59 1 - 35 1 in 176 million 1 in 31.85
October 7th 2015 Onwards 1 - 69 1 - 26 1 in 292 million 1 in 24.87

State Variations

Some states have variations to certain aspects of the game; for example, the amount of time you have to claim your prize might depend on where you bought your ticket. The closing time for ticket sales changes between different states. Officially it can be anywhere from an hour or more before the draw takes place. California's prize dividends are pari-mutuel meaning the prize amount will vary depending on the number of winners and tickets sold (this excludes the jackpot which is the same as the national publicised jackpot). To be clear, the game play is exactly the same from state to state.

We suggest you play online to avoid missing the cut-off for ticket sales. You're less likely to miss the expiration date for any claims too as the messenger service will alert you if you've won by phone and/or email.

Play Online

Contrary to popular belief, the official Powerball site stipulates that non-residents of the United States can participate in the Powerball lottery.

Canadians can participate in the Powerball lottery by using an online lottery service – a relatively new phenomenon that gives players access to numerous lottery games no matter where they're based. It's important to note that any online lottery service linked to or from Powerball.ca has been tested and vetted by the Powerball.ca editorial staff.

The process of playing Powerball online is simple and straight forward:

How to Begin

Lottery Ticket

Step 1

Pick Your Powerball Numbers

Lady signing up online

Step 2

Register and fund your online account

Man at Computer receiving an email

Step 3

Proof or purchase/scanned copy of your ticket is emailed to you

Loads of US Dollars

Step 4

Winnings are paid directly into your online account and you are notified by text message or email.

Types of Lottery Services

There are two types of online lottery services. The first is a messenger service which employs a specialist secure courier to buy the ticket on your behalf. A small fee is charged to buy the ticket but there are no commissions on any prizes whatsoever.

The second type of lottery service is where you bet on the outcome of the Powerball lottery. The odds, prizes and most importantly of all, the jackpot, are exactly the same. Large jackpots are covered by using sophisticated insurance models. The cost of the ticket is often exactly the same as the face value of the real Powerball ticket. Again, there are no commissions on any of your winnings. Whatever you win you get to keep all of it.

Big Lottery Service Winners

Big Lottery Service Winners

There are plenty of examples of people winning lotteries from different countries having used an online lottery service.

In May 2016 Matthias from Berlin won a staggering €22 million after betting on the outcome of Germany's 6aus49 lottery. The 39-year-old IT consultant didn't tell anyone for weeks as he couldn't believe how much he had won. He's now happily retired.

In February 2016, a winner from Cornwall, Ontario won US $1 million on Powerball using The Lotter, an online lottery messenger service. 'P' as he is known, was out watching his son play hockey when the draw happened only checking his numbers later that night to find out he was a winner. 'P' took the first flight out to New Jersey to collect his prize in person.

Back in 2012, two overseas players shared US $1.25 million won in the US, and in 2015, a player from Iraq claimed US $6.4 million on the Oregon Lottery. All three played using online lottery messenger services, and all three received the prize money they were entitled to - along with anonymity for the men from Iraq and Ontario.

Tax on Lottery Winnings - Good News for Canadians

There are certain tax implications that you should bear in mind when playing a US lottery if you are a Canadian citizen or resident. Firstly, the bad news is that all US lottery wins are subject to a federal income tax withholding of up to 30% which is paid directly to the IRS. The good news is that unlike American residents, Canadians do not have to pay any additional tax in Canada as all monetary lottery winnings in Canada are tax free.