Here in America, we love our lotteries.
About half of Americans play state lotteries—including, of course, the FL lotto. In 2017, the total sales came out to an astounding $71 billion. That comes down to about $86 a month of lottery tickets, which includes everything from scratch-offs to Powerball and Mega Millions entries.
This $86 a month then translates to about $1,038 per year. Americans who make about $30,000 a year even admit to spending around 13 percent of their paychecks on the lottery!
We're just a bunch of optimistic citizens hoping to cash in and become the next big winner. What's wrong with staying positive?
Well, before you spend all your money on a bunch of losses, consult this guide. We cover the "Sunshine stakes" and tell you what you can expect when playing the Florida lottery—from how to play, to how to win, and everything between.
The History of the FL Lotto
The Florida lotto is much more modern than you may think. In fact, its humble beginnings started in 1986.
Through a constitutional amendment, Florida citizens voted to authorize a lottery in their state. The margin was substantial: two-to-one. Thanks to Florida Legislature and then-Governer Bob Martinez, the Florida lottery was established.
The goal? To maximize revenues for enhancing public education—which ultimately allowed the people of Florida to benefit from significant money wins. Since then, both goals have been accomplished, earning this movement's success!
The first tickets, after a tumultuous beginning (no one said it would be easy putting a lottery together), were sold on January 12, 1988. Keep in mind this date is six days before its scheduled release date of the 18th!
What was the first Florida lottery game ever played? A $1 scratch-off, called MILLIONAIRE, which sold over $95 million in sales on that first day in January. Floridians were so excited to play their odds, they contributed to a lottery industry record.
MILLIONAIRE's success didn't stop there. Within seventeen days of borrowing $15.5 million from the state's General Revenue Fund, the lottery was able to pay back their start-up fees with interest to boot.
This success didn't blind the lottery from its original mission, which was to enhance public education. As an industry leader, the FL lotto contributes to the education system consecutively, with more than $1 billion in proceeds benefiting Florida students and schools around the state. This contribution represents a whopping 6 percent of the state's entire education budget.
How Have Scratch-Offs Grown Since Then?
If you're wondering where to buy lottery tickets in Florida, don't worry—there's no lack of options.
That one measly scratch-off game took off, and lottery fever helped fuel the industry's growth. By August of 1988, the FL lotto had already introduced its first two Draw games: FLORIDA LOTTO® and CASH 3™.
But what about the scratch-off? It all began there, so it's interesting to trace its expansion over time.
Now, scratch-offs range in price from $1 to $25 and include about sixty different scratch-off games at any one time. According to the FL lotto, this provides "better games and more winning moments." It also offers people a variety that allows them to choose something fun or relatable to them.
Scratch-off prizes range from free merch and free tickets to more substantial offerings, such as cash prizes and, oh yeah, $10 million. So while scratch-offs aren't exactly the jackpot, they're no small thing, either. The opportunity for big money is there.
Tickets are sold at more than 13,000 retailers across the state. So, the next time you're pumping gas, the odds are high (pun intended) that the establishment will be selling FL lottery tickets.
The Florida Lotto and the Florida Public Education System
There's an inextricable link between the FL lotto and the state's education system—even beyond what we've mentioned so far already.
Every day, thousands of students from pre-kindergarten to high school reap the benefits of the FL lotto's dollars. The FL lotto contributes significantly to Florida's Bright Futures Scholarship Program as well as other forms of financial aid. More than $6.3 billion from the FL lotto has been used to benefit students, making schools more affordable and keeping them running.
It's not just the money, either. The FL lottery has helped build or renovate nearly 800 schools in the state.
All this combined? The FL lottery has given more than $36 billion in profits to the school systems. So, if you've even gotten an education in the state of Florida, you can tip your hat to the Florida lotto!
Let's Talk About the Big Bucks
Scratch-offs are fantastic and all, but what about the jackpot!?
When you hear about the Florida Lotto, you're probably thinking of the millions, the aptly-named FLORIDA LOTTO. This game showed up mere months after the scratch-off was born, its birthday being August 31, 1988. At the time, they produced a $52 million jackpot that really amped up the excitement and water cooler conversations.
At the time of this writing, the next jackpot is set at $3.5 million. The week before, there were zero 6-of-6 winners, but eleven 5-of-6 winners (ringing in a hefty, albeit lesser sum, of $5,401.00).
But how does the FLORIDA LOTTO work, exactly? Is it always $3.5 million? What are the rules?
Well, for just $1, you have the chance to win big. Jackpots always begin at $2 million with room to grow from there—they roll until there's a winner. Drawings are held twice every week, providing ample time for you to play this week still (hurry, buy your ticket!).
Don't think it's worth your hard-earned cash? It helps to know that 1,000 people have already been jackpot winners. You could be next.
There's always the option to add an EZMATCH™ ticket to your order, which ups your chances of winning instant cash. You can also consider XTRA, which multiplies any of your non-jackpot winnings by two, three, four, or five times. For context, at the time of this writing, 7,555 people won the EZMATCH™, which was a $24,097.00 prize!
Now that you have a bit of an idea of how the lotto works, let's discuss how to play (and how to win).
How to Play (And Hopefully Win!) the Florida Lotto
First, head to your local ticket retailer and buy a ticket from the clerk or pick up a FLORIDA LOTTO playslip.
Each lotto playslip has ten panels, A through J, in which you will select your numbers (1 to 53).
Each player selects six numbers from 1 to 53. If you don't want the pressure of choosing your own numbers, that's what the QP box (or Quick Play box) is for. Selecting this option allows the terminal to choose your numbers for you randomly.
Once you've entirely filled out your playslip, the rest is up to chance! Turn your ticket into the retailer, who will then give you a printed slip of your numbers, as well as the draw date. You are responsible for the accuracy of your tickets, so if you're skeptical, always check them before leaving the store.
And there you have it! The rest is a waiting game. Tune in to see if you've won in one of four ways:
Checking at authorized Florida Lottery retailers
Calling (850)-921-PLAY (7529)
And perhaps the most exciting, nail-biting way: watching it live online
Drawings are held twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday nights at 11:15 PM EST.
How late can you buy lottery tickets in Florida to play for any drawing? You can buy a ticket until 10:40 PM EST on the day of the draw. Anything bought after 10:40 PM will be carried over onto the next draw.
The overall odds of winning the Florida lotto come out to a ratio of 1:67.36.
If you win: make sure to claim your winnings within 180 days of the draw date. Of course, we doubt this will be an issue for winners! Still, there's almost nothing worse than winning the lotto and then letting your winning ticket expire (it's happened!).
Two Ways to Increase Your Earnings
Each lottery ticket has two options for winning bigger: EXmatch and XTRA.
For $1 more per play, you can consider selecting the EZmatch box on your panel, which, as mentioned earlier, allows you to win cash instantly instead of having to wait for the winning lotto numbers.
If you want the chance to multiply any non-jackpot winnings, you'd also select the XTRA box (for another additional $1 charge). XTRA players who win three of six lotto numbers will receive a $25 bonus minimum, as well as the 3-of-6 prize multiplied by five—regardless of the multiplier selected in that drawing.
So, if you choose the EZmatch and XTRA options with your ticket, it'd come out to $3 per play.
The overall odds with EZmatch come out to a ratio of 1:4.71. The overall odds with XTRA come out to a ratio of 1:7.61.
Of course, when it comes to strategy, there are some things you can do to up your chances. However, as with all gambling, there's only so much you can do. At a certain point, your winning or losing is not in your hands, but in the hands of chance, the house, the odds, etc.
Let's discuss strategy next.
How to Strategize When Picking Your Lotto Numbers
Strategies, at the very least, keep you motivated and organized. At best, however, they can help you choose winning lotto numbers.
First, you can analyze previous lottery results of the lottery you want to play. Which numbers have been selected, and which have not? Knowing this gives you an idea of which numbers are "hot," which are "cold," and which are overdue.
"Hot" numbers are those that have been picked most frequently. "Cold" numbers are those that are drawn less frequently. And overdue numbers are those that have not shown up at all in recent weeks.
You can also consider the odds and evens strategy. This strategy entails not looking at individual numbers, but rather, the probability of a specific group of numbers being drawn. It's highly unlikely that the numbers chosen will be all even, or all odd—statistically, it's a nice even split of the two.
FAQ About the FL Lotto
Q: Can I buy Florida lottery tickets with a debit card?
A: Some retailers will accept debit cards (read: not credit cards). However, most retailers only accept cash, so that's your best bet.
Q: Can a convicted felon win the lottery in Florida?
A: Florida state law does not prohibit convicted felons from playing or pocketing. In fact, convicted felons have won the FL lotto before.
Q: Which Florida lottery game has the best odds of winning?
A: Your best odds of winning lie in the game Florida Fantasy 5. In this game, the odds of winning the first prize jackpot are one in 376,992, while the odds of winning four numbers are even less—one in 2,432.
Q: Who won the big lottery in Florida?
A: So far this year, one Bonita Springs resident has won the Florida jackpot. With six matching numbers, her earnings came out to $396.9 million! Five players won various lottos in 2019, with one player cashing in a check of $15.5 million thanks to the jackpot.
Play Your Odds
We hope you've found this information about the FL lotto exciting, entertaining, and motivating.
Perhaps you couldn't even finish reading before you got in your car and drove to the nearest gas station with some cash on-hand.
As they say in the Hunger Games: May the odds be ever in your favor!
Don't start and stop with the Florida lotto, though—there's more where it comes from. Keep browsing our site to learn all things gambling. We discuss games, news, casinos, bonuses, and more.
Consider us your go-to resource for all things gambling, lotto, and fun!