Glossary of Lottery Terms

Knowledge is power and it’s no different when it comes to playing the lottery. The lottery market developed over many decades, resulting in terms synonymous with this niche. But are you sure you know the exact meaning of each one?

Understanding more about the odds can help you strategize better. Also, having a better grasp of a vendor’s terms and conditions, especially those relating to payouts, will help safeguard your interests and manage your budget.

Ready to become a better, more informed player?

What Are Synonyms for ‘Lottery’?

Perhaps you’re missing out on some fun lottery games! An online page description could contain some of the following terminologies without you realizing it’s referring to lottery games or tips. If you come across any of the following phrases or synonyms for ‘lottery’, you’re in the right place to have fun:

  • Numbers game
  • Luck of the draw
  • Raffle games
  • Lotto
  • Sweepstakes
  • A game of chance
  • Drawing
  • Gamble
  • Contest
  • Game
  • Wager

Lottery Glossary

Terms Starting with A

Add-on game: In addition to the primary game, you can place an additional wager. This is usually at an extra cost but the same draw results are used for the primary and this secondary game.

Advance bet: When the ticket you buy isn’t for the next draw, but for one scheduled after it, somewhere in the future.

Agent: An entity that sells lottery tickets.

Annuity: A popular jackpot payout option, where you’ll receive your prize money in yearly installments. This can be for 20 years or more and is the alternative to getting one lump sum. (See ‘Lump sum’ below).

Terms Starting with B

Balls: Most lottery games have round objects, each with a number. Together they form a ball set. A ball draw machine randomly produces a ball or a few balls and this is called a draw. The drawn numbers from a few of these draws result in a number sequence. Players must have guessed correctly beforehand which balls would be drawn in order to win the lottery prizes.

Also known as:

  • Digit
  • Number

Bearer instrument: Any financial document that isn’t signed to prove ownership, but one assumes the owner is the one who possesses it – such as a lottery ticket.

Beneficiary: Anyone who receives winnings from a lottery game.

Betting slip: You write your chosen lottery numbers on paper – the betting slip – to hand to a lottery retailer. The retailer uses this as reference, scanning the slip or to punch in your numbers on the terminal to enter it into the system. Afterwards you get the official lottery ticket, printed by the computer. Note that a betting slip is not an official lottery ticket or proof of purchase of one. The same principle applies on an online lottery platform, by using a digital slip. Also referred to as ‘Play slip’.

Bonus lotto: A lottery which uses a bonus ball that’s often drawn from a second ball machine. Usually, in order to win the lottery jackpot, your lottery numbers must match the numbers from the first machine but also this bonus number from the second machine.

Bonus number: A special ball (or digit or number) that makes up part of a lottery’s number sequence. Some lotteries draw this from a separate ball set. Certain lotteries also charge additional payments to guess the bonus ball. Its purpose is to lower the odds of guessing all numbers correctly and to help define categories of the lottery’s prizes. Also called ‘Bonus ball’.

Terms Starting with C

Canceled ticket: If a ticket is voided but also printed by a lottery terminal.

Capped: Progressive jackpots are capped if policies prevent them from growing beyond a certain amount.

Cash for life: Instead of a large sum of money, your winnings are paid as regular installments for the rest of the winner’s life. Note: This can be a type of prize for a lottery, but there’s also a specific lottery, Cash4Life, using this prize type for all winners.

Claim form: A lottery vendor can request you to complete a claim form containing personal details, before making payouts.

Claim period: The maximum time, after a lottery draw, you have to claim a prize. Lotteries have different periods stated in their policies. After it has elapsed, they’re not legally bound to pay you any money.

Cold number: Through analyzing statistical data of recent draws, one can make an assumption of which (cold) numbers aren’t likely to appear in draws in the near future. Also referred to as ‘Underdrawn’. See ‘Hot number’ for the opposite.


  • Definition A: When retailers and lotteries are in partnership, ‘commission’ refers to sales figures.
  • Definition B: The legal body which governs a lottery. They have advisory obligations and authoritative ones.

Consecutive numbers: Drawn numbers that creates a sequence of numbers in numerical order. For example, ‘4, 5, 6’ which forms part of a larger drawn set of numbers. With a break in consecutive numbers, a drawn number breaks the traditional order of the numbers. For example, 4, 5, 10, 6.

Consecutive bets: You pick a numbers set and then place wagers to play that set for the upcoming draw but also ones that follow. Also referred to as ‘Multiplay’.

Terms Starting with D

Daily games:

  • Definition A: Lottery games that have draws every day of the week.
  • Definition B: An alternative term people use for ‘pick games’. In this lottery game you choose numbers between 0 and 9 only, with fixed prizes up for grabs.

Date games: These lottery games happen on a particular day of the week, instead of every day.

Digit: An alternative term for ‘number’, often used when a lottery game offers options between 0 and 9, as in daily games.


  • Definition A: A draw is the event where the numbers for a lottery game are produced and revealed. It can be a live event to attend, and is also often broadcast on TV or online. It can take place with a physical draw or via lottery machines that produce balls at random from the numbered round objects inside them. Also referred to as ‘drawing’.
  • Definition B: The results of a lottery.

Draw machine: the name of the machine drawing the number (balls; digits) during a draw. Also called:

  • Numbers machine
  • Ball draw machine

Drawing format: The format of the lottery, in terms of ball sets, number of machines and how many balls come from each machine during a draw. These particulars determine the odds of the game.

Terms Starting with E

EFT: An electronic funds transfer, which is one of the options to receive your winnings payouts.

Estimated jackpot: Some lotteries’ jackpots are dependent on the number of tickets sold before the draw. Therefore, a vendor can only provide an estimation of what the prize money would be while tickets are still on sale.

Exact order: When a lottery or number game’s rules state that in order to win, your selected numbers must be in the same order as the order the machine selects the winning numbers during the draw.

Exotic numbers: Number sets that people or statistics deem uncommon.

Exotic game: Any lottery game with untraditional rules, conditions or formats.

Terms Starting with F

Fixed payouts or prizes: These prize amounts are set and don’t change with each draw. It’s often the prize type of lower payouts for matching some but not all the lottery numbers. You’ll also find it in card games and daily games.

Fixed jackpot: A jackpot of a specific amount, which won’t grow based on ticket sales or reset to a starting jackpot amount after a win. This is as opposed to a progressive jackpot (see definition elsewhere).

Front pair: In number games, a win may be dependent on whether two digits you pick are the same as the first two produced during the lottery draw. Also referred to as ‘Split pair’.

Terms Starting with G

Group play: You can form a group that pools funds, purchases tickets together and splits winnings. With more capital available, you can purchase more lottery tickets and increase the odds of winning a prize. Also referred to as ‘Office pool’. See ‘Syndicate’.

Terms Starting with H

High numbers: In a number or ball set, the high numbers are the highest half of the set. The other (lower) half are the ‘Low Numbers’.

Hit: Term used to describe a number appearing as part of the draw.

Hot numbers: Statistical analysis will show which numbers are most likely to be part of the draw in the near future. These numbers are ‘hot’. Also called ‘Overdrawn numbers’. It can be numbers that tend to be part of a draw more often than others. Hot and cold numbers can change over time.

Terms Starting with I

Internet gaming: Instead of playing via brick and mortar outlets, you can access lottery and other games via the World Wide Web.

Internet wager: The wager you make while playing the lottery via an online vendor.

Terms Starting with J

Jackpot: The biggest, main prize you can win in a lottery game. It can be a set amount, or it may grow with each draw if it’s a ‘rollover jackpot’ – also referred to as a ‘progressive jackpot’ system.

Jackpot fatigue: After a progressive jackpot has been won, it resets and the mount may be so low and unimpressive, that fewer people feel it’s worth buying a ticket. During this fatigue period – a dip in sales – people wait for it to climb before spending money on new tickets.

Terms Starting with K

Keno: A certain lottery game requiring you to wager on numbers that appear in rows and columns on a card. You can also play it online.

Kiosk: The terminal, usually at a lottery retailer, where you purchase lottery tickets. It can be a self-service kiosk allowing you to punch in numbers, instead of filling out a play slip.

Terms Starting with L

Last drawn: The last time a certain number was part of the draw.

Line: Refers to the set of numbers you need to pick when placing a lottery wager.

Lottery betting: Instead of buying a ticket through the official lottery vendor, you place a wager on the outcome of that lottery. This happens via a lottery agent.

Lottery commission: In a certain area or state – a jurisdiction – the lottery commission is responsible for regulating and overseeing all activities related to lotteries.

Lottery tax: Depending on the tax legislation in your state or country, you may pay tax on lottery winnings.

Lottery terminal: The electronic machine you’ll find at lottery retailers, which is connected to the lottery system. The retailer enters your number choices via this machine and it will print out your ticket for you.

Lottery messenger service: An entity that purchases lottery tickets on players’ behalf.

Lump sum: Also called the ‘Cash Option’, this jackpot payout gets you your entire winnings in one payment, instead of yearly installments (see Annuity).

Terms Starting with M

Match: When one of your lottery numbers is the same as a number drawn.

Minimum jackpot: If a lottery has a progressive jackpot, each time it’s won, the prize money will revert back to the minimum jackpot amount. Also called ‘starting jackpot’.

Multi-draw: Players can purchase lottery tickets for multiple upcoming draws, instead of only for the next one.

Multiplier: Usually you pay extra to include this as part of your lottery ticket purchase. This is an additional number draw and your winnings are multiplied by that number, although higher prizes – especially the jackpot – won’t be.

Multi-jurisdiction lottery: Lotteries like Powerball and Mega Millions are accessible for players to place wagers, from multiple states. Because of more players, jackpots tend to be larger.

Terms Starting with N

National Lottery: A country’s official lottery games, managed by a lottery organization.

Number checker: You’ll find these as apps or part of online lottery platforms. The software compares your numbers with the drawn numbers, notifies you of winnings and calculates how much you’ve won.

Number generator: Instead of choosing your own numbers, a digital, online generator creates number combinations for you to use when buying lottery tickets. A generator can use statistical analysis or other mathematical guidelines to suggest number combinations most likely to result in a win.

Number range: The range of numbers – e.g. between 1 and 49 – from which you pick options for your lottery ticket. Also called:

  • Ball set
  • Number pool

Numerology: Some people believe a connection exists – some say of a supernatural nature – between events and numbers. You can use this as inspiration for lucky numbers, such as using the date of a special event as your lottery numbers.

Terms Starting with O

Odds: A statement of how probable it is that you can win a prize in a certain lottery game. This probability is unique for each lottery. It is dependent on factors such as the size of the number set and therefore how many possible number combinations there are to pick from.

Offline gaming: An offline game allows playing even if there’s no computer or online connection to a lottery vendor. One example is playing a physical scratch card at a lottery retail outlet.

Online agent: These agents purchase lottery tickets for you, from official retailers. They provide a copy of the ticket, which they’ll usually email to you. It’s also called a messenger service.

Overdue number: When statistics show a certain number should show up in a draw, but it still doesn’t, it becomes ‘overdue’.

Terms Starting with P

Pari-mutuel: In pari-mutuel games like Powerball, if there are multiple jackpot winners, they split the prize money equally between them, instead of each person receiving the full amount.

Passive game: When players purchase tickets but the game doesn’t require making decisions relating to the details, such as the numbers, on the ticket. Taking a random raffle ticket can be a passive lottery activity.

Payback rate: Expressed as a percentage, it represents what part of gross revenue a lottery uses for prize payments.

Payout: Money you receive from a lottery vendor after winning.

Payout table: The list, relating to a specific lottery, showing what prizes players can win. Each prize tier has conditions of how many correct numbers make a player eligible for that prize money.

Player: Anyone placing a wager and in possession of a lottery ticket.

Play slip: See ‘Betting slip’.

Prize percentage: For each draw, a certain percentage of the payout amount goes to the prize tier. Also see ‘Payback rate’.

Prize pool or fund: Taken from ticket sales, there’s a certain amount used to pay prizes on the prize tier.

Prize tier: There are certain levels – tiers – of prizes in a lottery, instead of only the jackpot prize. Each tier relates to a certain amount of correctly guessed numbers. Also, see ‘Payout table’.

Terms Starting with Q

Quick pick: Instead of picking your own numbers, a machine, computer or online lottery platform will do it for you. It produces a random set of numbers that you use for your lottery ticket. Also called ‘Lucky Dip’.

Terms Starting with R

Raffle: Players enter a game by purchasing a ticket and a winner is drawn at random, taking into account the number of tickets sold, so there will definitely be a winner.

Repeat: When a certain number appears as part of the draw for the second time in two days.

Result history: The data about past lottery results, such as numbers drawn, winners, prize amounts and more.

RNG: A random number generator picks numbers at random. As a secure, computerized system, some lotteries may use it instead of ball machines.

Rollover: If no one wins the progressive jackpot after a draw, the jackpot amount rolls over to the next draw’s prize pool.

Terms Starting with S

Scratch cards: These lottery tickets have a layer you can scratch off to reveal numbers and whether you’re eligible for a prize. With modern technology you can also play this online in a virtual, digital manner. Also referred to as ‘Instant Games’ or ‘Scratchers’.

Skip: The opposite of ‘hit’, this is to state that a certain number hasn’t been drawn.

Sports lottery: When sports events’ outcomes determine a lottery’s results.

Starting jackpot: Each time a progressive jackpot is won, the next draw will have a smaller jackpot, which the lottery’s policies state the size of, as the ‘starting jackpot’.

Subscription: Instead of placing your wager before each game, you set up a subscription to automatically pay for and enter upcoming draws. You can set the parameters such as how many tickets and for what period before discontinuing.

Supplementary game: You get an additional opportunity to win a prize or a larger payout, sold in conjunction with a lottery ticket. It could incur an additional cost. Also called ‘Extra games’.

Sweepstakes: Prizes are up for grabs, with winners picked at random.

Syndicate: You can join a syndicate that buys tickets as a group. By pooling everyone’s capital, a large number of tickets can be afforded, increasing the chances of one of them resulting in winnings. You only own part of each ticket, so you share winnings with everyone else in the syndicate. Also see ‘Group play’.

Syndicate manager: This individual manages a syndicate and takes on duties, from purchasing tickets to obtaining everyone’s money and ensuring payouts are divided fairly.

Terms Starting with T

Ticket validation: Before any payout, lottery vendors will validate a ticket, to ensure it’s valid and that no prize has been claimed before using that ticket.

Total sum: Add your number sequence’s values together to obtain your total sum. With some games this gives you another way to win if your total is the same as the sum of the numbers drawn that day.

Terms Starting with U

Unclaimed prizes: When no one has claimed a prize, even though there is a winner.

Underdrawn numbers: See ‘cold numbers’.

Terms Starting with V

Vendor: Any store or online platform selling lottery tickets.

Terms Starting with W

Wager: The money you pay to guess the outcome of a lottery, before a draw. You ‘place a wager’ on an outcome, while still uncertain what the results will be. This forms an agreement between you and the lottery that a financial transaction may take place, based on the lottery results.

Withholding: A lottery may deduct (withhold) a certain amount of your winnings, which is for taxes. It depends on tax laws for your state or country.

Terms with Numbers

6/49: A lottery game with numbers from 1 to 49, of which you need to pick 6. Your prize depends on how many correct numbers you picked.

50/50: One ticket can be for two wagers.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, the questions you’ve had about lottery games, policies, and winnings are answered? If you have any more questions, we’ll be happy to assist. You can read more in our ‘Guides’ section.