In the days before internet usage became widespread, buying lottery tickets 'offline' was a much more time-consuming process: players would need to visit a participating retailer, fill out lines on a ticket slip and pay, and then watch the televised draw to find out whether their lucky numbers had come up. Playing the lottery online is in some ways much easier (in terms of convenience) but in other ways more complicated, as the range of features and games on offer has increased considerably. Listed below are the key differences between online and 'offline' lottery.
As discussed above, one of the key differences between offline and online play is the location where you buy your tickets: in-store versus on a dedicated website, for example National-Lottery.co.uk. When you buy offline, there's very little in the way of setup (although some UK retailers may ask for ID to verify that customers meet the 16-years age limit). By contrast, when playing online, users have to register for an account and provide personal details such as name, address, date of birth, gender and email address – as well as debit card details in order to process payments.
Another significant difference is the level of security and assurance available online. For example, if you buy a lottery ticket in a shop and subsequently lose it, it's very difficult to prove the win and claim the prize. Likewise, if a player forgets to check the results of a draw, they may also fail to claim their prize in the event of a win. On the other hand, with an online lottery ticket, there is a permanent digital record of all transactions and numbers, and players will typically receive email alerts within 24 hours if they've won a prize, with the funds often being transferred straight to their account. The exception to this is in cases where players scoop a jackpot or other large prize – this will usually require the winner to either collect the prize in-person or to accept delivery by cheque.
Buying lottery tickets online comes with the benefit of several convenient features, such as
In the UK, online players have access to the country's four major draws via the National Lottery website – Lotto, EuroMillions, Thunder Ball and Lotto Hotpicks. One key difference from the offline experience, however, is the selection of scratch card options on offer: online players will find a very wide selection of 'instant win' games to choose from (more than you would expect to find in-store) – and, unlike a shop, there's no risk of your favourite scratch card being out of stock.
Another key advantage of playing online is the opportunity to participate in lotteries from around the world, some of which (like the Mega Millions, Italy's SuperEnalotto or Spain's La Primitiva draw) routinely rack up enormous jackpots. Lottery concierge websites like TheLotter, GiantLottos and LottoLand work by either sending out local staff members to purchase tickets in the relevant country on behalf of overseas online players, or by acting as a betting service, whereby players pick their numbers and effectively bet on the outcome of the draw (without actually purchasing a ticket).
These websites also offer the chance to join online syndicates for major overseas draws (in which players buy 'shares' in exchange for a proportion of any winnings) which can boost individuals' chances of winning, thanks to collective purchasing power – without the effort and admin involved in organising an offline syndicate.