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National Lottery

Technically, national lottery isn't used within the U.S.; however lotteries such as Powerball and Mega Millions allow people in multiple states to buy tickets for a chance to win massive amounts of money.

Countries offering a national lottery include Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, and South Africa. In the U.K., the National Lottery offers players a variety of ways to win cash. The most popular game is Euro Millions which selects winning numbers twice a week with prizes starting at one million euros.

Euro Millions is similar to the U.S. version of Powerball and state Lotto's. Currently, 43 of 50 states within the U.S. participate in the lottery system. Each state lottery is required to participate in multi-state lotteries with the exception of North Dakota, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

Multi-state games tend to have higher lottery jackpots, but the odds of winning can be staggering. Some of the more popular multi-state games include: Powerball, Lotto, Wild Card and 2 By 2.

The majority of lottery games are played by purchasing scratch-off tickets or lottery tickets consisting of a certain amount of numbers. There are countless scratch-off tickets that provide instant winnings when numbers or symbols match.

When buying lottery tickets, players can select their own numbers or buy tickets with computer-generated numbers. There are several types of number games that let players win money by matching 3, 4 or 5 numbers.

To win Powerball lottery jackpots, have to match all 5 numbers along with the Powerball number. State lotto games require players to match all 5 numbers to win the jackpot. Winnings can be magnified by purchasing a multiplier number. The cost is usually $1 per multiplier with a maximum of five.

For example, players buy a Powerball ticket and want to try to multiple their winnings by 5. Each ticket costs $1 and each multiplier costs $1, so the total ticket price would be $6.

These multi-state games also offer smaller prizes when players match 2 or more numbers, but not the full 5. Prizes range from a free ticket to a few thousand dollars.

Scratch-off lottery tickets offer prizes ranging from a free ticket to several thousand dollars. Some even offer more than a million dollars. Others offer prizes ranging from cars and vacations to big screen TVs and household goods.

If you are fortunate enough to amass fortunes through lottery winnings, keep in mind that winnings are taxable. So are non-monetary prizes won from scratch-off tickets, such as vacations and cars.

It's smart to get advice from a tax accountant to make certain lottery taxes are paid on time. Lottery taxes are pretty steep and can amount to 50 percent or more of total winnings, so don't risk having late fees, penalties, and interest added to payable amounts.

It's also helpful to consult with a financial advisor to determine if you should choose to accept lottery winnings through installment payments or lump sum cash.

Winning mega millions places people into higher tax brackets, but offers few exemptions to lower taxes. People that regularly gamble should keep careful accounting records since gambling losses can be deducted from winnings.

Last, but not least, if you should happen to inherit lottery winnings from a deceased relative, the money might be subjected to estate taxes. It's best to talk to a lawyer to ensure a smooth transition.

Although the U.S. doesn't have a national lottery, there are plenty of chances for winning a few dollars to mega millions. As long as you play responsibly you can have some fun and win prizes or maybe even millions. In the meantime, we invite you to browse our personal finance library to learn about strategies that can put the money you currently have to work while you're waiting for your ship to come in.