The Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) is an organization that is owned and operated by thirty-one state, district, and territorial lotteries all across the United States. The organization runs several lottery-style games that span multiple jurisdictions, and each member lottery can choose to participate in one or more games administered by the MUSL, making those games available in their respective state, district, or territory. The organization was formed in 1987 to benefit local governments, and any profits that are made by the games are retained by each individual member lottery. These profits are used by the lotteries to fund different projects that are earmarked by their state and local governments.
The MUSL has historically run eleven games, including the first, which was Lottery America in 1987. Only six are currently being administered however, including the most popular, which is Powerball. This game is currently played in twenty-nine states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and it consists of two weekly drawings of five numbers from one to 55, plus a special number called the “Powerball”, which is drawn from a separate grouping of numbers of 1 to 42. These numbers are drawn in the form of balls that are chosen out of two drums, one for the first five numbers, and one for the Powerball number. To win the multi-million dollar grand prize, players must match all five regular numbers, and also the Powerball number, although lesser prize amounts exist for other combinations of matches, all the way down to a $3 prize for matching one regular number plus the Powerball number.
Another game that is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association is Hot Lotto, which is played in nine states and the District of Columbia. Although less popular, this game is similar to Powerball in that there are two drawings per week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It also follows the grand prize format of Powerball in that the jackpot starts at a pre-defined level ($1 million for Hot Lotto) and grows with each drawing that passes in which there was not a winner. In addition, Hot Lotto also uses a format in which five numbered white balls are chosen along with an additional red ball, which in this case is called the “hot ball”. The payouts are much lower in Hot Lotto than with Powerball, but the advantage to this game is that the odds are better, as the white numbers only go up to 39, and the red number only goes up to 19. This is in contrast with Powerball, which has numbers from 1 to 55 and 1 to 42, respectively.
In addition, if one is looking for even better odds, another nearly identical MUSL-run game called “Wild Card 2”, which is played in only three states, has a range of 1 to 31 for white numbers and 1 to 16 for the “Wild Card” number. Finally, the “2 by 2” game, played in three states every day except Sunday, is a simpler game consisting of two red numbers and two white numbers, each from 1 to 26. Players must match all numbers to win the grand prize of $20,000, but can win lesser prizes for other match combinations.
Not only does the MUSL administer lottery-style games where the players match their numbers with those on colored balls that are drawn from barrels, but the organization also runs a Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) game called “Cashola”, which is played in three states. In this game, a network of VLT’s are connected in various locations, such as racetracks and other places where gambling is legal. Players make a wager of $2.25 on a single play, and then try to match symbols that appear, as on a slot machine. If five “Cashola” symbols appear, the player has won the progressive jackpot, which is one that grows with each play.