HomeCalifornia Lottery

Forming in 1984 and officially opening its doors in October 1985, the California Lottery was approved via Proposition 37 in the California State Lottery Act. Including everything from traditional lottery draws, to scratch-offs and even mock horse races, all revenue goes towards funding Public Education in the state.

The idea of the Lottery Act of 1985 was that the state would provide money to public schools, without bringing extra taxes to Californians. As part of the legislation, the California Lottery was required to allocate at least 34% of its revenue to public education. 

Additionally, at least 50% of the revenue would go towards the public through winnings from the lottery itself. The remaining 16% was to be allocated to the administration of the California Lottery itself, including salaries of the staff and the costs to run the game.

What is the California Lottery?

The California Lottery is a state-backed organization that was formed following the Proposition 37 ballot measure that was approved by California voters in November of 1984. What followed was the California State Lottery Act, which to this day supplements the funding of CA public education through lottery-generated revenue.

Despite being considered a public agency in the state, the California Lottery receives no public funding and instead pays its in-house bills from revenue generated from the lottery games. With 84% of total revenue going back to California Lottery Players and public education funding, the California Lottery, in many ways, operates as a non-profit organization.

To date, the California Lottery has given public schools in the state more than $40 billion in supplemental funding to help them operate. Since 1985, the California Lottery has maintained a five-member commission, with meetings held quarterly that are open to the public.

Is it possible to play the California Lottery online?

No, you can not currently play the California Lottery online, as only authorized brick-and-mortar retailers can legally sell lottery tickets in the state. While there are websites and mobile apps out there that sell California lottery tickets, the state has taken a strict stance that the only safe and secure way to play the California Lottery is through an authorized (in-person) retailer.

Though you can not play the California Lottery online, there is a CA Lottery mobile app where you can scan tickets to see if they are winners, check winning numbers, find a CA Lottery retailer, and much more. It also lets you see 2nd Chance promotions and up-to-date winners.

History of the California Lottery

Approved by 58% of California voters at the time, the California Lottery was formed in 1984 by a popular vote. In January 1985, as required by The Lottery Act of 1984, a mandated five-member commission was formed to oversee the lottery and the director. Appointed by the governor, the Lottery Commission was designed to hold quarterly meetings that are open to the public, as well as send quarterly reports to the Attorney General, Governor, Controller, Treasurer, and the State Legislature.

California Lottery sales officially began in October of 1986 with a game called Lotto 6/49, with Daily Draw games beginning in March 1990. The popular lottery game keno made a brief debut in the California Lottery early in the early 1990s, before a 1996 lawsuit by Pachinko Parlor forced the state to shut the game down.

In 2005, the California Lottery made the popular Mega Millions a part of its offering, becoming the 12th state lottery to join the game. Eight years later in 2013, the California Lottery joined another major national lottery game, adding the Powerball to its game menu. Later that year, scratch cars made their debut in the Golden State, officially launching in September 2013.

Guide for claiming California Lottery winnings

Are you a California Lottery winner? Congratulations! We have you covered below on what to do next, in our comprehensive guide for claiming California Lottery Winnings.

Winnings of $599 or less

If your lottery ticket or scratch-off card is less than $600, you can visit any Lottery Retailer and the clerk on-site will give you cash from the register. You can also visit one of the Lottery District Offices (more on that below), as well as download a claim form and mail it to the California Lottery at California Lottery, 730 North 10th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811.

Winnings of $600 or more

If you’ve won more than $599, you have the same options above, with the exception of a Lottery Retailer. If you are able to visit a Lottery District Office, you can get same-day processing on prizes of $1,000 or less. The California District Offices are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, and can be found throughout the state at:

  • Milpitas: 900 Hanson Court, Milpitas, CA 95035 - (408) 214-4204
  • Sacramento: 4106 East Commerce Way, Sacramento, CA 95834 - (916) 830-0292
  • Richmond: 618 South 8th Street, Suite 300A, Richmond, CA 94804 - (510) 806-8960
  • Fresno: 7620 North Del Mar Avenue, Fresno, CA 93711 - (559) 449-2430
  • Chatsworth: 9710 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Chatsworth, CA 91311 - (818) 722-1602
  • Rancho Cucamonga: 11138 Elm Avenue, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730 - (909) 803-6232
  • Santa Fe Springs: 9807 Bell Ranch Drive, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670 - (562) 777-3434
  • Costa Mesa: 235 Baker Street East, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 - (714) 716-4076
  • San Diego: 5656 Ruffin Road, San Diego, CA 92123 - (858) 492-1700

Win an Annuity Prize?

An annuity prize is paid in installments over a period of time. If you have won this type of prize, you must complete a Payment Election Form as witnessed by a notary or California Lottery representative. Those forms can be found below, sorted by type of game.

Can you claim California Lottery winnings online?

No, you can not claim California Lottery winnings online. The only three ways to claim CA Lottery winnings are to visit an Authorized Lottery Retailer (less than $600), a Lottery District Office, or by mail.

If your winnings are less than $600, you will be given cash by the lottery retailer. If your winnings are $600 or more, you must visit a CA Lottery District Office (locations noted above) or claim by mail, both scenarios in which you will receive a physical check.

Unlike other states, California Lottery regulations require that all winner’s names, no matter the size of the prize, be made public and reportable by media outlets. It is also important to note, that while the state of California does not tax lottery winnings, you are still responsible for paying federal taxes.

Is there a mobile app for the California Lottery?

Yes, there is a mobile app for the California Lottery that is loaded with features to benefit players. First, you can scan any ticket to see if it's a winner, and if so, how much you won. The mobile app for the CA Lottery also allows you to scan eligible tickets to be entered into the weekly 2nd Chance Draws.

Additionally, the mobile app for the California Lottery allows you to check winning numbers and jackpot amounts for any Draw game offered by the state Lastly, you can find a CA Lottery retailer near you with the app, simply by turning on your location within the app.

California-specific draw games to play

With a population of nearly 40 million residents, California has more than enough people to have its own games. Below are a few of the California-specific draw games to play when participating in the state, and how they work.

  • Daily 3: The player picks three numbers from 0 to 9, or can have the machine pick them randomly. The cost is $1 per play/draw, and there are two draws every day.
  • Daily 4: Similar to Daily 3, the main difference is the player picks 4 numbers from 0 to 9. The cost is also $1 with drawings held once per day.
  • Daily Derby: Setup as a mock horse racing game, the player chooses three horses (out of 12) to finish in first, second, and third place. The player also chooses a total race time, ranging from 1:40:00 to 1:49:99 by marking the last three digits on the betting slip. The cost is $2 per play, with one draw every day.
  • Fantasy 5: The player chooses five numbers from 1 to 39, with each ticket including up to five sets of numbers. The game costs $1, with drawings held once per day.
  • SuperLotto Plus: The oldest California-specific draw game, the SuperLotto Plus began as the Lotto 6/49. Similar to Mega Millions and Powerball, the player chooses five numbers from 1 to 47, and one Mega Ball number from 1 to 27.

Cross-state lottery draw games to play in CA

With one of the most state-specific draw game menus in the country, California also participates in cross-state lottery draw games. Below are the cross-state lottery draw games to play in CA today.

  • Mega Millions: Beginning in 2005, with the effort led by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, California officially joined the nationwide Mega Millions. Unlike other states, California has its own prize pool for Mega Millions, which is in addition to the national prize pool.
  • Powerball: The California Lottery Commission approved joining Powerball in September 2012, officially launching in April 2013. Like Mega Millions, all non-jackpot draw prizes are contained within the pool of money from sales within the state. Because of this, prize amounts for winners in California are different from the rest of the state.

Instant win lottery games in California

Known as “scratchers” or “scratch-off tickets”, instant-win lottery games in California have become a big hit since being legalized just over a decade ago. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular games available today.

  • $200 Frenzy ($2): Match any of your 10 numbers to any of the three winning numbers, and win the prize(s) below the number. The odds of winning any prize are 1 in 4.30
  • Red Hot Cash ($10): Match any of your 20 numbers to any of the two winning numbers, and win the prize(s) below the number. The odds of winning any prize are 1 in 3.61
  • Crossword Xtreme ($30): With three crossword grids, find any of the four bonus words and win the prize shown below them. The odds of winning any prize are 1 in 3.73.

Where can I buy lottery tickets in CA?

With more than 23,000 authorized retailers throughout the state, there is no shortage of places to get involved in the California Lottery. Below are a few of the places where you can buy lottery tickets in CA if you are 18 years of age or older.

  • Gas Stations
  • Liquor Stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Lotto Stores
  • Convenience Stores
  • Grocery Stores

Famous CA Jackpot winners

Generating as much revenue from their lottery as any state in the country, California has its fair share of big winners. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the most famous CA Jackpot winners.

  • October 2021 (Powerball): In Morro Bay, CA, Scott Godfrey purchased a Powerball ticket from an Albertsons grocery store. Winning the jackpot after purchasing 10 lines for $20, the total prize was $699.8 million.
  • November 2022 (Powerball): In the biggest lottery win of all time, a sole winner from California took home $2.04 billion before taxes. Edwin Castro chose to take the lump sum of $997.6 million, according to officials from the California Lottery.
  • October 2023 (Powerball): Second to only Castro’s win one year earlier, Midway Market & Liquor in Frazier Park, CA sold a winning $1.765 billion ticket.


Do I have to pay taxes if I win the CA lottery?

You do not have to pay state taxes if you win the CA lottery, as California does not tax lottery winnings, but you must pay federal taxes. Consult with your local tax professional to determine your exact situation.

Can I play the California Lottery if I’m 18?

Yes, you can play the California Lottery if you are 18 years old or older. This is different from other types of gambling in California.

What is the annual revenue from the California Lottery?

The annual revenue from the California Lottery, as of the 2021-22 fiscal year, was $8.85 billion. Much of that was sent to California public schools.

What are the odds of winning various California Lottery games?

The odds of winning various California Lottery games vary greatly, with scratch cards as low as 1 in 3, and draw games as high as 1 in 15 million or more.

How can I check the results of California Lottery drawings?

The best way to check the results of California Lottery drawings is to go to their website or download the CA Lottery mobile app. You can also scan your ticket with the Check-A-Ticket machine at authorized CA Lottery retail locations.