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Lottery Terms

Remember to Play all Lottery Games Responsibly


Glossary of Lottery Terms


Activated Pack - The status of a pack of instant tickets when the first winning ticket in the pack has been validated or the pack has been assigned to a retailer for a specified period of time.

Advance Bet - The ability of a player to purchase wagers on draws that will be held in the future.  The number of draws and time span vary from lottery to lottery.

Advertised Jackpot - The minimum prize amount the lottery supports it will pay to the winner of a specific draw over a set annuity period.

Aged Pack - A pack of instant tickets at a retail location that has not been opened for sale or that the retailer has had in his/her possession for a specified period of time.

Agent (Lottery) - A lottery retailer

Amber Alert - An electronic missing/abducted child warning issued by a local, state or federal authority.  Many lotteries provide Amber Alert warnings through their lottery terminals and other point-of-sale postings.

Annuity - Payments made to a prize winner that are annuitized over an extended period (typically 25 to 30 years). As opposed to a Lump Sum payment.

Back Pair - Wager option for player to select the last two numbers in a set of Pick-3 or Pick-4 draws.

Back-up Computer - A computer that is synchronized with the central computer and is intended to takeover the central computer functions if the central computer fails.

Ball Draw Machine - A device which mechanically scrambles a set of numbered balls, and then randomly draws from that mix to determine the winning numbers for a specific game. Some games utilize multiple ball draw machines.

Barcode - A code consisting of a group of printed and variously-patterned bars and spaces and sometimes numerals that is designed to be scanned and read into computer memory and that contains information (as identification) about the object it labels

Bearer Instrument - A designation of a lottery ticket under which the winnings from the ticket are payable to the person possessing the ticket or to the order of the person who has demonstrated bearer status by signing the ticket as the owner.

Beneficiary (Lottery) - The designated recipient(s) of profits of a lottery.

Bingo (Instant) - An instant game played with BINGO letters and numbers.

Bonus Number - A number drawn in some games in addition to the regularly-drawn set of numbers.

Book - A set of instant lottery tickets. Instant lottery tickets are sold in fan folded sets of perforated tickets with each of these sets comprising a book. The number of tickets in a book is often dependent on the price of a ticket--$1 tickets may be packaged in books of 300 tickets and $20 tickets may be packaged in books of 100 tickets

Box(ed) Bet (Any Order) - Wager option in which a player wins if selected numbers are drawn in any order, not just order as drawn (straight bet). (Payment is lower than a combination bet).

Break-Open Ticket - A predetermined outcome lottery ticket in which players open panels on the back of the ticket to determine if they won.  These games are typically offered by charity organizations. (see Pull Tab)

Broadcast - The process of sending messages, such as winning numbers, through the lottery network to the lottery terminals

Cancelled Ticket - An online ticket which is voided after it has been generated by a terminal.

Cash-for-Life Game - A lottery game which offers a set prize payment to be made in installments to that winner for the duration of the winner's life.

Cash In (VLT) - The cash placed into a Video Lottery Terminal.  Does not include credits as with the "Handle".

Cash Lotto - A lottery game with a fixed or rolling parimutuel payout in which the top prize can only be taken as a lump sum payment.

Cash Option/Payout - A single payment, rather than an annuity awarded over a multiple-year period, awarded as a prize to a player. The lump sum value is determined by bond rates under which an annuity is purchased. (See Lump Sum.)

Cash Out (VLT) - Prizes paid out by a Video Lottery Terminal

Cashing Agent - Lottery Retailer authorized to cash winning lottery tickets

Central Computer - The computer handling all gaming and validation activity for the lottery.  This system communicates with all the lottery terminals in retail locations.

Charitable Gaming - A division within the lottery responsible for licensing charitable organizations when conducting fundraising activities like bingo, raffles, Monte Carlo and other games where charities raise funds. Department assures that charitable gaming is fair and honest and that proceeds and prizes are handled according to established rules

Claims Center - A location at which players can have tickets validated and collect prize amounts which exceed those payable by a retailer.

Claim Form - An official lottery form filled out by a player when claiming a prize of at least a specified value at the lottery (may also be used by certain lottery agents).

Claims Process - The procedure and/or paperwork involved in awarding a prize to a player.

Combination Bet - A wager option in which a player selects a box bet and a straight bet for one set of numbers. A 3 or 4 digit Number is played straight and every combination of that number is covered.  Covers all possible combinations.  Cost depends on the number of combinations. 

Commission - 1) The percentage of sales provided to a lottery retailer as an incentive to partner with a lottery as a lottery agent. 2) The governing body of a lottery, which operates in either an advisory or authoritative capacity.

Consignment Billing - A billing option that gives the retailer a chance to sell ticket packs before they are billed. This option allows retailers to have more ticket stock on hand without having to pay for it upfront.

Corporate Account - Chain of stores or very large merchants (retailer/agent). Retailer with multi locations in one jurisdiction or through out the country with a central headquarters.

Cut-and-Paste - The act of cutting symbols or words from one lottery ticket (typically instant) and pasting them on another ticket to make the ticket appear to be a winner.

Daily Game - Games, typically Pick-3 and Pick-4 which have a daily draw.  Some lotteries also offer multiple draws per day (Afternoon/Evening).

Dates Game (DATO) - An online game in which the  player selects and wagers on a series of dates. Winners are selected randomly by a draw machine, and prizes are awarded for matches.

Demographics (Player) - The statistical study of human populations especially with reference to size and density, distribution, and vital statistics. The study of total size, sex, territorial distribution, age, composition, and other characteristics of human populations; the analysis of changes in the make-up of a population

Disclaimer - A denial or disavowal of legal claim, relinquishment of or formal refusal to accept an interest or estate, a statement establishing liability/responsibility or non-liability/non-responsibility by an organization.

Double - A three- or four-digit game that contains two numbers of the same digit, i.e. 122

Double Double - A four-digit number made up of two doubles, i.e. 1221

Draw Certification - A process by which systems and drawings are verified.  An official record of the results of a drawing that is signed by a drawing manager/supervisor and in some instances, by an independent auditor.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) - The electronic banking process which utilizes clearing house transactions to deposit or debit authorized accounts.

Electronic Game Card - A computerized instant game device in which a player, instead of scratching a ticket, reveals points as he moves through a series of electronic plays. The higher the points, the higher the prize. Each card is a guaranteed winner, with prizes ranging from a minimum of $3 to a maximum of $500. As with any instant game, all prizes are pre-determined.

Exact Order - A wager option in which player-selected numbers match drawn numbers exactly in the order drawn.  Also termed "straight".

Five-Digit Game (Pick 5) - A game sold only in a single jurisdiction in which the player chooses exactly 5 numbers (00000 or 11111 to 99999) and which typically offers a fixed prize structure.

Fixed Payouts - The number and amounts of prizes established for a game, regardless of how many tickets are sold. Typically this is the case for daily numbers games (Pick 3 and Pick 4).

Force Majeure - A clause frequently included in lottery contracts to protect the parties from their inability to perform when the non-performance is caused by natural disasters and other extraordinary, unforeseeable events.

Four-Digit Game (Pick 4) - A game sold only in a single jurisdiction in which the player chooses exactly 4 numbers (0000 or 1111 to 9999) and which typically offers a fixed prize structure.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) - A law which allows individuals or organizations to request data and information that is a matter of public record. FOIA laws vary by state.

Front Pair - Wager option for player to select the first two numbers in a set of Pick-3 or Pick-4 draws.

Gambling - Wagering money in an attempt to make a profit. To bet on something.

Game Closed - The time when instant tickets for a specified game can no longer be ordered or distributed by the lottery or retailer.

Game End - The official date, determined by the Lottery, that the instant game has ended.  Prizes must then be redeemed within the time period required by the Lottery.

Game Expiration - The time after the instant game has been closed and the game prize redemption date has been passed. Tickets from the game can no longer be redeemed.

Game Matrix - The configuration between the amount of numbers matched and the payout amounts for each match for each online game. Example - 5 of 36 game.  

Game Show (Lottery) - A televised show which includes the draw event for any of a variety of games, including daily and lotto games.  Extended game shows may also include second-chance games with live player and audience participation.

Gaming System - All components used in providing lottery services, such as central computer, back-up computer, lottery terminals, telecommunications network. Also referred to as the central computer.

Gray Machines - Illegal Video Lottery Terminals not authorized by the jurisdiction in which they are operated.

Handle - The cash (and/or credits) placed in to a Video Lottery Terminal. 

Incentives (Retailer) - Offerings to retailers, usually in the form of cash, to reward and retain their participation and partnership with a lottery.

Instant Game (Scratcher) - A lottery ticket on which a player scratches latex coating from one of more play areas to determine if he or she has won, as indicated by the symbols and words that are revealed (see Scratcher).

Instant Ticket Dispenser - An acrylic counter display unit housing multiple instant ticket game packs and accessible to the retailer only.  Mainly used in convenience stores behind the service counter.

Instant Ticket Vending Machine (ITVM) - A free-standing vending device into which a player inserts cash then selects instant game tickets they wish to purchase.

Internet Gaming - The opportunity to place wagers, participate in casino-like games, and/or purchase lottery or raffle tickets via the Internet.

Internet Wagering - The practice of using Internet websites to wager on a variety of lotto, sporting events, casino games, etc.

Interprovincial Lottery - A consortium of the five lottery organizations which represent all Canadian provinces (Atlantic Lottery Corp., British Columbia Lottery Corp., Lotto Quebec, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., and the Western Canada Lottery Corp.), participating individually in various multi-jurisdictional lotto games.

Invitation to Bid (ITB) - A formal, public notice by an organization soliciting costs and details for a specified service.

Jackpot - The top prize in any game.

Jackpot Fatigue - A point at which players, when jackpots remain steady for a period of time, lose interest in playing.  The fatigue threshold increases as jackpots increase over time. 

Keno - A lottery game in which a player chooses "X" numbers with the object to match as many of "Z" numbers chosen by the lottery from a field of "Y" numbers.  One of the classic Keno games is 10 of 20 of 80.  With most keno games, players can choose how many numbers they want to pick to match--i.e... they can vary "X", thereby affecting their odds of winning.  Keno draws typically occur every 5 minutes.

Key Account - Large chain or high volume retailer.

Latex - The soft coating on an instant ticket that is removed by the player to reveal play data.

Launch (game) - The process of introducing a new product. The first date that a new lottery product is offered to the public.

Licensed Properties - Trademarked brands and products that have been licensed by a lottery for its use in order for the lottery to use as game themes, images, etc.

Lottery - 1) an entity that operates or administers lottery games--usually a governmental or quasi-government agency or a corporation licensed by a government.  2) a game in which all plays have an equal chance of winning.  3) a game with three components for the players: a prize to be won,  a chance to win and not win, and an element of consideration (such as buying a ticket) to enter the game.

Lottery Beneficiaries - The designated recipient(s) of profits of a lottery.

Lottery Commission - The members of a board who have oversight of the entire lottery organization. The Commission typically is selected by the governor of the state. 

Lottery Drawing - The process of selecting numbers to determine which previously sold lottery tickets are winners.  Lottery drawings may done using mechanical devices with balls, spinning devices, or computers.

Lottery Play Center (Play Station) - A free-standing Point-of Purchase podium-like structure that advertises the lottery and gives players a place to fill out lottery forms and holds items such a lottery play slips and informational brochures. 

Lottery Sales Representative (LSR) - A lottery employee responsible for a particular geographical region or territory or classification of retailer with regard to servicing that retailer's lottery needs.

Lotto - A lottery game in which a player chooses "X" numbers from a field of "Z" numbers.  The games are frequently referred to using "X" and "Z"--such as Lotto 6 of 44.  The games usually have three or four prize levels including a large jackpot prize that increases if it is not won.

Lotto South - A multi-jurisdictional consortium of the states of Georgia, Kentucky and Virginia participating individually in various combined lotto-type games.

Lump Sum - A single prize payment, as opposed to an annuitized payment. The lump sum value is determined by bond rates used to purchase an annuity.  (See Cash Option.)

Mega Millions - A multi-jurisdictional online game in which several states participate individually. 

Multi-Jurisdiction Lottery - A consortium of lottery jurisdictions which offers the same game, with jackpots paid in lump sums or annuities, by more than one jurisdiction.  Includes PowerBall, Mega Millions, Tri-State Lotto, Lotto South, and the Interprovincial games. The prize pool is shared by all participating lotteries.  Multi-jurisdiction games allow lotteries to generate larger jackpots.

Multiplier - An extra number drawn to increase the payout if the wager is a winner. The drawn number (Y) will multiply the player's prize (X) by that drawn (Y) value.  A multiplier  option usually requires an additional wager amount.

Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) - The professional association responsible for the operations of the Powerball group of games offered in states that belong to a specific multi-jurisdictional lottery group.

Net Machine Income (VLT) - Cash In minus Cash Out for a Video Lottery Terminal

North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL) - The non-profit professional association representing all government-sanctioned lotteries in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Aruba.

Numbers Game (Online Game) - Pick-3 and Pick-4 daily games, offering various options for placing bets (straight, box, combination).

Off-Shore Wagering - Wagering services outside of U.S. borders that accept wagers from U.S. citizens illegally.

Online Game - A play style or specific ticket or game that is available only via a lottery terminal located at a licensed lottery retailer..

Online Ticket - A lottery ticket that is printed on demand by a lottery terminal, with a drawing or some other event determining whether the ticket is a winner.

Parimutuel (Pari-mutuel) - A payoff method in which the total available prize pool is split between all winners at a particular prize level.

Passive Game - Early pre-numbered lottery ticket games in which player wins if their numbers match (or partially match) numbers from a drawing.

Play Slip (Bet Slip) - A machine-readable paper form used by players to choose their lottery numbers.   A retailer can insert the play slip into a reader and the lottery terminal will generate an online lottery ticket.

Player Activated Terminal (PAT) - A free-standing vending device which accepts currency and permits a player to select and play online lottery games. 

Players Club - A collection of players who register with a particular lottery, usually via the Internet, to receive points for participating in various lottery promotions, jackpot alerts, and various "special offers" related to lottery ticket purchases (see VIP Club).

Point-of-Sale (POS) - Promotional materials that are on display near a lottery terminal or register for the purposes of advertising or promoting specific lottery games.

Pool - Drawing pool: A logical collection of the plays or tickets for a specific drawing.--all the tickets eligible for a specific drawing are said to be in that drawing's pool.  Prize pool: The money from sales that will be used to pay prizes in a specific drawing. (the prize pool).

PowerBall - A multi-jurisdictional online game in which several states participate individually. 

Prize Assignment - The ability of a player to pass on his/her prize claim to another individual or organization.

Prize Payout - The percentage of sales returned to the players in the form of prizes.

Profit (Revenue) - Typically, the funds that are returned to a jurisdiction's government at the end of any fiscal year.

Pull-tab (Break-Open, Pickles) - A predetermined outcome lottery ticket in which players open panels on the back of the ticket to determine if they won.  These games are typically offered by charity organizations.

Quad - A four-digit number made up of the same number repeated four times, i.e. 5555

Quick Pick/Easy Pick - 1) A feature in which the lottery terminal randomly chooses numbers for a player, frequently used in lotto games and lotto-type games. 2) A lottery ticket produced by using the quick pick feature.

Racino - Typically  A venue offering the combination of a race track wagering and Video Lottery Terminals.

Random Number Generator (RNG) - A secured computerized system, used in place of ball draw machines in certain jurisdictions or for certain games, which draws random numbers for a lotto-type game.  This replaces the ball draw machines in certain jurisdictions.

Randomizer - A device or program that generates a certified random set of numbers.

Redemption - The process of presenting and processing a ticket for a prize claim.

Request for Proposals (RFP) - A formal, public notice by an organization soliciting inviting vendors to submit ideas, concepts and costs related to a specific end.

Responsible Gaming - The practice whereby a person spends only what he or she can afford on lottery tickets and other gambling activities.

Retailer - An entity authorized and licensed by a lottery to sell lottery products.

Retailer Cashing Bonus - An incentive provided to a lottery retailer to reward and encourage them to redeem and cash winning tickets.

Retailer Commission - The fees that are paid to a lottery retailer by the lottery based on the retailer's sales, and in many cases, cashing of winning tickets.

Riverboat Casino - A type of casino that may be on a freely-floating ship or may be authorized to remain at a specified dock.

Rollover - The continued accumulation of a jackpot when drawn numbers are not matched.

Scratcher - A lottery ticket on which a player scratches latex coating from one of more play areas to determine if he or she has won, as indicated by the symbols and words that are revealed (see Instant Game).

Second Chance Drawing - A feature whereby non-winning lottery tickets provide an additional opportunity to win prizes other than in the specific game presented on the ticket. that is in addition to the game for which they were produced.

Sleeve - A pack of Pull-Tab tickets

Slingo - A game consisting of a combination of slots and bingo

Specialty Items - Promotional and premium items for players.

Spiel (Kicker) - In some jurisdictions, A random, computer-generated number, which appears on a lotto ticket, which is an optional purchase for a player, for an additional wager. The wager is on the draw of this number, which is separate from their lottery ticket numbers.

Sponsorship - A lottery's support, usually financial, of an activity outside of its normal retail sales.

Sports Lottery - Players Wagers placed on the results of various weekly sporting events, selected by players. and purchase tickets which designate their selections (typically on weekly events). Also known as "Toto" or "Sports Pools".

Straight - Wager option in which player wins if numbers selected are an identical match, in order, to the numbers drawn.  Also termed Exact Order.

Subscription - A paid-in-advance program in which a player purchases a specified number of lottery tickets to be drawn over a specified time period.

Sweep Account - A banking account which allows the Lottery to credit or debit funds to a retailer through electronic funds transfers (EFT).

Sweepstakes - Typically a game where prizes are awarded to a specified number of entrants drawn from a pool. As opposed to a lottery, there is no cost or purchase required to be entered in to the pool.

Swept - When payment is electronically taken from retailer's account.

Telecommunications Network - The telecommunications infrastructure that provides point-to-point communication between the lottery terminals and the central computer.  These networks may include analog or digital components and be comprised of wire, fiber, radio, or extraterrestrial transmission paths.

Telemarketing (Tel-Sell) - Inside sales activities communicating with retailers via electronic means.

Terminal - An electronic device used for entering plays and printing tickets for online lottery games and for cashing lottery tickets.  Lottery terminals also have administrative features for retailers.

Terminal Download - The process of sending new or updated software to the lottery terminals.

Terminal Software - The computer program that controls the functionality of a lottery terminal.

Three-Digit Game (Pick 3) - A game sold only in a single jurisdiction in which the player chooses exactly 3 numbers (000 or 111 to 999) and which typically offers a fixed prize structure.

Ticket Stock - Special paper used for printing online lottery tickets at lottery terminals.

Toto - Players Wagers placed on the results of various weekly sporting events, selected by players. and purchase tickets which designate their selections (typically on weekly events).

Training Mode - An operational setting for a lottery terminal in which the retailer can practice using system features without creating actual lottery tickets.

Tribal Casino - A gaming facility owned and operated by Native Americans on their own tribal land.

Triples - A three-digit number made up of the same number repeated three times, i.e. 777

Tri-State Lottery - A consortium of three states (Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont) that share in the common lotto game, Tri State MegaBucks.

Trunk Stock - Instant ticket inventory kept in a sales representatives vehicle for the purpose of distribution to lottery retailers as needed.

Unclaimed Prizes - A winning ticket that has been properly sold but not claimed by a player.  Any prizes that remain unclaimed at the end of a lottery's fiscal year may then be transferred to a variety of jurisdictional funds.

UPC Code - Uniform Product Code - a registered code assigned to products providing information specific to that product.

Validation - 1) the process of confirming a lottery ticket is a winning ticket, confirming the ticket has not been previously validated, and marking the as "validated" in the system (a winning ticket can only be validated one time.) 2) An attempt to validate a lottery ticket. If the ticket is not a winner or has previously been validated, the retailer (or validation clerk) will receive an appropriate message.

Vault - Lottery distribution center

Vendors - 1) Industry suppliers providing goods and services to the lotteries and other vendors.  2) Licensed lottery retailers.

Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) - A free-standing electronic terminal on which the player wagers in a variety of games, such as Blackjack, Poker, Number and Symbol Matches, etc.  Players are able to win prizes of cash and/or credits (redeemable for future players and/or cash). 

VIP Club - A collection of players who register with a particular lottery, usually via the Internet, to receive points for participating in various lottery promotions, jackpot alerts, and various "special offers" related to lottery ticket purchases (see Players Club).

Winner Awareness - An effort to publicize or advertise actual lottery winners for the purposes of promoting ticket sales.

Withholding - The amounts required to be subtracted from a winner's prize to cover initial payments for state, federal and in some cases, local taxes.  Some lotteries also withhold outstanding monetary obligations, such as child support, owed to the jurisdiction.

World Lottery Association (WLA) - The professional lottery association representing the major lottery organizations throughout the world.