More than half of US lotteries now offer a "for life" lotto draw game
By Todd Northrop
In the past year a new multi-state lottery game concept where the top prize pays out over the lifetime of the winner has swept across the United States.
Just like there are two big-jackpot multi-state lottery games — Powerball and Mega Millions — there are also two multi-state "for life" games: Cash4Life and Lucky for Life.
The games offer a top prize and a second prize that pay off over the lifetime of the winner. Both games offer the same $7,000-per-week top prize, but Cash4Life offer a bit more to second prize winners: $52,000 per year for life vs. $25,000 per year for life with the Lucky for Life game.
Of course, each game has minor pros and cons when compared to the other, but they are essentially the same. Players can win by matching five numbers plus a bonus number drawn from a separate number pool, just like Powerball and Mega Millions.
Tickets for both games are $2 each, and drawings are held Mondays and Thursdays.
Lucky for Life drawings are held in Connecticut, while Cash4Life drawings are conducted in New Jersey. Both games are drawn using a real lottery ball machine.
From a lottery industry perspective, what makes the games so compelling is the speed with which they are adding more jurisdictions. In just one year, "for life" games have spread from a handful of New England states to more than half of the US lottery jurisdictions.
The Connecticut Lottery originated the game concept in 2009, with the introduction of Lucky-4-Life.
In March, 2012, the game was opened up as a multi-state game, adding the New England states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The name was changed to "Lucky for Life", and it adopted the slogan "New England's Game".
In June of 2014, the New Jersey and New York lotteries jointly started a similar game called Cash4Life. The game was only offered in those two states.
By late 2014 state lotteries across the country were seeking new revenue opportunities as the Mega Millions and Powerball games were underperforming, and the "for life" games were becoming popular among lottery players in the states they were being offered. So in early 2015 the floodgates opened, and the "for life" games added several new states to the mix.
Now four more states are joining the "for life" game phenomena: Iowa starts ticket sales for Lucky for Life this Sunday, Maryland begins ticket sales for Cash4Life on Jan. 26, tickets for Lucky for Life go on sale in North Dakota on Jan. 31, and North Carolina is joining the Lucky for Life game on Feb. 7.
"Iowa, along with the rest of the country, just had fun with last week's world-record Powerball jackpot drawing," Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said. "We've been looking for some time at game ideas that would complement Powerball and our other lotto games and bring a different look and feel to the category. We think Lucky for Life will be a great fit in our line-up of games."
After the new states are added within the new few weeks, Lucky for Life will be offered in 19 states plus the District of Columbia, and Cash4Life will be available in six states. That leaves a minority of states — 19 — without a "for life" game.
Where to play
Lucky for Life, the game that started it all, has the lion's share of lottery jurisdictions:
- Iowa (starting Jan. 20)
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina (starting Feb. 7)
- North Dakota (starting Jan. 31)
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Washington, D.C.
Cash4Life has states with arguably the biggest player base in the Northeast:
- Maryland (starting Jan. 26)
- New Jersey
- New York