Introduction to the Florida Lottery

Florida has a population of over 19 million people and it is believed that citizens spend in excess of $4 billion a year on lottery tickets which shows the popularity of such games in the state.  This works out at $210 per person per year or $4 per person per week depending on how you want to look at it. We took a look into the lottery industry in Florida, which games are played, as well as the tax laws that exist.


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Florida Lottery Games

Lottery24- Florida Powerball   

Florida Lottery Powerball

The first Powerball results to include Florida were on January 7th 2009, and the draws currently take place on Wednesday and Saturday nights. In order to play the game players must choose five numbers from a range of 1 to 59 or they have the option of choosing Quick Pick for a random selection. They must also select a Powerball number from a range of 1 to 35. If they are able to match all five numbers as well as the Powerball when the Florida Lottery Powerball results come about then they are a jackpot winner. 

Florida Lottery Mega Millions

Mega Millions draws are held on Tuesday and Friday nights, with huge prizes regularly up for grabs for players of the popular lottery game. In order to play you are required to pick five numbers from a range of 1 to 75 as well as a Mega Ball from a selection of 1 to 15. If players fancy a random selection of numbers picked for them then the quick pick option is also available. The jackpot is won if all five numbers as well as the Mega Ball match those of the Florida Lottery Mega Millions results.



   Lottery24 - Florida MegaMillions
Lottery24 - Florida Lottery   

Florida Lotto

The Florida Lotto requires players to pick six numbers from a range of 1 to 53 or choose the quick pick option for an automatic random number selection. The jackpot is won if a player manages to match all six winning numbers with draws taking place on Wednesday and Saturday. There was a significant change to the game in 2009 when the ‘Lotto Plus’ option was replaced by ‘Lotto Xtra’. This inclusion allows players to pay extra for each game, offering players the chance of multiplying non jackpot winnings by two, three, four, or five times.

Other games available to play from the Florida Lottery aside from the Florida Lotto itself are Cash 3, Fantasy 5, Play 4, and Mega Money.

Lottery24 - Florida Cash 3   

Cash 3

This game is easy to play and all that you are required to do is select the amount you want to play, then choose out of the seven available ways to play, ‘Straight, Box,  Straight/Box, 1-off, Combo, Front Pair, or Back Pair.’

After this, depending on which method of playing you have chosen, you must select your numbers from a pool of 0-9, or use the quick pick option to have a random selection picked for you. If you are playing ‘Front Pair’ then you only choose numbers for the first two columns, and if you chose the ‘Back Pair’ play option then you should only choose numbers for the last two columns.

Dependent on the play type that you choose and the amount played, prizes of up to $500 are up for grabs.

Fantasy 5

In order to play this game, you need to pick five numbers from a range of 1 to 36, while there is also the common quick pick option for a random selection.

The top Fantasy 5 prize is won by matching all five winning numbers. Other cash prizes are available for matching two, three, or four of the winning numbers. If the top prize is failed to be won then the funds roll down to the next prize tier to be paid out between winners from that tier instead. This has a bit of a domino effect as the money left over in this prize tier then moves down to the next (3rd tier) to be shared amongst winners of that category.

   Lottery24 - Florida Fantasy 5


Lottery24 - Florida Play 4   

Play 4

Play 4 is another lottery which offers players a variety of ways in which to play the game. There are two drawings a day, one at midday and the other in the evening and it is simple enough to play. All that you have to do is choose the price of ticket you want and then select the play type you want to use out of six available options. After this players must pick four numbers from a range of 0-9 or choose the quick pick option for a random selection. Finally a draw time has to be selected out of the midday draw or night draw. If both are chosen then two separate tickets of the same selection will be provided for the player. The top prize available from Play 4 is $5,000. 

Mega Money

This game has draws held each Tuesday and Friday and requires players to pick four main numbers from a range of 1 to 44, as well as a “Mega Ball” from a choice of 1 to 22. In order to win the top prize, all four winning main numbers as well as the Mega Ball must be matched. The jackpot starts at $500,000 and if it fails to be won then it is able to roll over until it reaches $2 million. From here on, any extra jackpot funds are allocated down to the lower prize tiers.


   Lottery24 - Florida Mega Money

The end for ‘Lucky Lines’

In October of the year 2010, the Florida Lottery introduced a game by the name of ‘Lucky Lines’ to its selection of online games. The premise of the game was to offer customers the opportunity to win instantly rather than having to wait for drawings like conventional lottery games. Players were required to choose how much they wanted to stake on each ticket as well as whether they wanted to choose their own seven numbers from 1 – 49 or go for a quick pick random selection. The computer would then create a 7x7 grid containing numbers 1 to 49, with the players chosen numbers spread within the grid. The top prize would be won if a player had a straight line of all 7 of their numbers within the grid, and the value of the prize would vary from $400,000 to 3,000,000 dependent on the amount that was staked. There were also secondary prizes available for lines formed of less numbers as well as lines of different angles.

This popular game came to an end in 2013 following The Florida Lottery’s introduction of Mega Millions.


Florida Lottery Winners

Gloria McKenzie - Florida resident, 84 year old Gloria C McKenzie became one of the biggest Powerball lottery winners of all time when she took home a staggering $590 million in 2013. Gloria’s struck gold by matching the winning numbers 10, 13, 14, 22, 52, and Powerball 11, defying the  175 million to 1 odds of matching the winning combination.  She chose to take a lump sum if she won and netted around $278 million after tax. The Publix that sold her the ticket got a bonus of $85,000 and more than $50 million went to Florida’s education funds.

Richard McMullen – It was something of a Christmas miracle for Richard McMullen who won a $50 million Florida Lotto jackpot from a Christmas Eve drawing, and also happened to have the 1,000th jackpot winning ticket in the game's history. Mr McMullen, of Tallahassee matched all six winning numbers 2, 11, 15, 19, 24 and 26. It also proved to be a profitable drawing for Circle K, the retailer who sold the lucky ticket to the Florida Lottery winner, as the store was awarded a $150,000 bonus reward.

W. Steemers Trust – Florida’s first Powerball winner came in 2009 when a lucky lottery player from the state matched all five main numbers as well as the Powerball in the October 3rd drawing. The jackpot which created more than $21.7 million for education was claimed by the W. Steemer’s Trust, for which the trustee was William A. Steele. They made the decision to take a one off lump sum payment of $101,160,403.68.


Florida Lottery Taxes

Florida Lottery is required by the internal revenue service to hold back 25% of federal withholding tax from prizes that exceed a value of $5,000 if the winner is a citizen or resident of the US and has a Social Security number. For prizes that are lower than $5,000, the Florida Lottery is not required to withhold taxes from prizes. If the lucky winner is however a resident without a Social Security Number then the state is required to withhold 28% backup federal withholding tax from any prize that has a value greater than $600. For those who aren’t from Florida, it is mandatory for the Florida Lottery to take 30% federal withholding tax from prizes of any value.


The Florida Lottery History

The Florida Lottery, established by Governor Bob Martinez and the Florida Legislature came about in 1986 after voters pushed for a legal amendment in favour of a lottery that would use its profits towards helping improve education in Florida. It has delivered on this intent through the course of it continuing to grow into an industry leader following its launch. In every one of the last 11 financial years it has managed to contribute more than $1 billion.

It was in January 1988 when the Florida Lottery started selling tickets for its first game which was the Scratch-Off ticket Millionaire, a game that proved to be very successful.  In fact, the game exceeded $95 million in sales in its first week which at the time was a record for the lottery industry. Soon after this we saw games such as Millionaire as well as other Scratch-Off games which continued the success to the point where the Lottery had made enough to repay the original start-up cost in as little as 17 days.

Florida Lotto and Cash 3 launched together in April of 1998 and it was the former that was to make history later that year in August, when it set both a national and world record at the time after its jackpot reached an estimated $52 million value. We had to wait until 1990 for the first $100 million jackpot however, when six tickets split an impressive $106.5 million from the September 14th draw that year.

The lottery continued to grow, adding new games such as Fantasy 5 in 1989 and Play 4 in 1991, for customers, offering them a larger number of prizes and more importantly, prizes of a bigger value. Another significant year was 1998 which marked the 10th anniversary of the Florida Lottery, as well as being the year where we saw the addition of a cash option introduced.

A year later the Florida Lotto saw some significant changes to its structure with the introduction of Wednesday draws and a change in the matrix from 6 numbers being chosen out of 49 to 6 out of 53 instead.

Things continued to tick along over the years before a landmark stage in the development of the Florida Lottery in January of 2009, when it was declared that it would join the Multi-state Lottery Association and launch the now infamous Powerball lottery. The first Powerball draw to include Florida was January 7th 2009 and due to Florida becoming a part of the game, the venue for draws was initially moved from Iowa to Universal Orlando Resort, and eventually to Tallahassee where Florida Lottery headquarters are based.  Florida’s first Powerball winner was announced in October 2009 when a Dr William A. Steele took home a staggering $189 million top prize, and decided on the one off payment option that would pocket him in the region of $101 million.

The year 2013 celebrated the lottery’s 25th anniversary that was marked by some significant changes such as a redesigned logo as well as becoming more involved in the hugely popular Social Media world of Facebook and Twitter. The Florida launch of one of the other most popular games in the lottery industry today, Mega Millions, happened in May 2013. Following Raymond Moyer and Robyn Collier’s big Mega Millions win in March 2014, Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O'Connell said the following about becoming a part of the Mega Millions: “We joined Mega Millions to offer our players more winning moments, and that's what we have done. Since joining less than a year ago, Florida players have won more than $149 million in Mega Millions prizes, while simultaneously generating more than $66 million for Florida's students and schools."


Other Florida Lottery Information

Funding to good causes

In addition to educational donations already made by the lottery, the ‘Bright Future Scholarship Program was also formed with the idea of helping students in paying their college fees. This started in 1997, and since then the lottery is able to boast the fact that it has donated over $3.9 billion which has helped over 600,000 students go to college, impressive achievements. Out of the Florida Lottery’s yearly expenses and pay-outs, around 50-60% of its net revenue goes towards prize funds, while 30-40% is allocated to the Educational Enhancement trust Fund, 6% is given as commission to retailers, and online and scratch off ticket vendors  get 2%, while the same amount is put towards operational costs such as advertising.


At the start of 2013, tickets for the Florida Lottery were being sold by an impressive 13,200 retail stores which is a good indication of the huge interest consumers have in these games. The largest retailer, ‘Publix’ was said to be responsible for a significant 18% of all lottery sales.

Each store receives a 5% cut of the money made from tickets they sell and also have motivation from the fact that the store who sells the highest winning ticket for some of the big lottery games, receives a bonus such as $100,000 in the Powerball’s case.

Current Jackpots