One of the primary reasons why I started Lottery Critic was to ensure that you, my fellow lottery aficionados, were presented with the information to thoroughly understand what makes an online lottery website sit at the top or bottom of the barrel. My reviews are based on certain criteria which, as a player myself, are important. I encourage you to read on to digest all the information, so you can make an informed and educated decision for yourself before playing.
First and foremost, any website on the internet has to provide great user experience from sign-up to page navigation to functionality, and more. The same goes for online lottery sites. You might think this isn’t that big of a deal considering all you need to do is just log in, purchase a ticket and wait for the results, right? Not so fast, my friend!
What’s the first thing you notice when you visit a lottery site? In addition to huge, colorful images, lottery sites usually pepper their homepages with a list of the latest lotteries and their corresponding jackpots. Your eyes are immediately drawn to these, and you get a quick, healthy dose of information without being overwhelmed – an indication of good design.
The Importance of Design
Good website design is user-friendly, organized, uncluttered and aesthetically pleasing. Just like the inside of my refrigerator. Not really! If you’re going to be spending a lot of time on a lottery site, an inconsistent, outdated, and an overly flashy website can be a big turn-off that will equally bore and irritate you.
A good website is not only pleasing to the eyes, but also allows you to navigate effortlessly across all its pages. All its features should be functional which should make buying a ticket easy-peasy. After all, you’re buying a lottery ticket online, not a 12-room mansion with a vineyard in Tuscany! And have you ever visited a lottery site that bombards you with constant ads? It’s probably best to bid “adieu” or “cheerio, mate” and find another one that’s less concerned about milking more money out of you and more focused on providing a better experience.
Language and currency options are important factors in the online lottery universe as well. Since most online lottery sites target a global audience, being able to switch between different languages and currency options is a no-brainer. More and more lottery sites offer these choices, but it’s important to note that no lottery site will ever provide a completely exhaustive selection of languages. Whether you say loterie, loteria, lotterie, lotereya, lotto, loterij or lottery, all roads lead to the dream of winning big! Choose one that suits your specific linguistic needs.
A good lottery site must be able to provide users with sufficient knowledge about their particular services, the different lottery games they offer, payment options, winning payouts, security, privacy, and a bit about online lotteries in general. Not everyone is well-versed in lottery terminology or game rules, so those that offer a helping hand or tutorials from start to finish score big-time in my book.
The Two Types of Lottery Sites
Beyond overall user experience, I also look at what type of lottery site each company falls under. There are two types; the first is a lottery agent – a lottery site that purchases actual lottery tickets for you. Lotto betting sites, on the other hand, only lets you bet on the outcome of lottery games.
Why is this distinction important?
Allow me to answer that with another question: would you rather be an official entrant in a lottery, or be a spectator and bet on the outcome? Lottery agents can do the former for you, with the added benefit of being able to officially enter international lotteries from wherever you are.
About Non-Lottery Agents
That’s not to say that the betting sites option is entirely without merits though. Most lottery sites that only allow you to bet on lottery results usually offer lower prices than lottery agents – simply because they don’t go out of their way to purchase and scan tickets. Of course, lottery sites like this should be regulated by a legitimate gambling commission and has systems in place to ensure that winners get their prizes. If push comes to shove, I opt for the agent.
If a site identifies itself as a lottery agent, I check to see if they provide ticket scans or not. Some lottery agents scan tickets and provide copies to players as proof of ownership, while others don’t. Of course, the former is more preferable, but that doesn’t mean sites that don’t provide ticket scans aren’t any good. Just verify they have a good payout history record.
Here’s where lottery agents might be at a slight disadvantage compared to lotto betting sites. More often than not, lottery agents tend to tack on handling fees which slightly drive up the cost of tickets. Don’t get me wrong, most lottery agents’ added fees usually aren’t unreasonable, and those that offer ticket prices close to their retail value deserve a second look.
It’s worth noting that there are some lottery agents that don’t tack on additional handling fees – though they usually make up for it somewhere else, usually by taking a percentage from your winnings. As you can see, there will always be tradeoffs whichever type of site you choose. Therefore, it is important to look at the other factors of a lottery site’s service, such as…
One of the best things that online lottery sites offer is the ability to play lottery games you wouldn’t normally have been able to in the comfort of your own home. The truth, unfortunately, is that no lottery site is created equal. Some websites offer tons of choices, while others either offer a disappointingly paltry selection, or something in between.
Does a website have a wide array of both national and international games, or a good mix of both popular and obscure lotteries? Do they offer lottery syndicates, or even virtual scratch cards? Some say that variety is the spice of life but though variety is an important factor in my ranking, it’s not a deal-breaker. After all, if a lottery site has only a few lottery games on its site, but offers an otherwise awesome service across the board, then it wouldn’t make sense to give them a negative review.
Count on most lottery sites to provide the usual selection of deposit and withdrawal options: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and Skrill, to name a few of the more conventional methods. Those that stand out from the crowd, however, accept payment methods that are varied and unconventional. I’ve seen one lottery site that offered as many as 30 deposit options, which definitely impressed me – not only because of the sheer number of choices, but also because their list included less popular ones as well. This translates into more people from all over the world now having a chance to join online lottery games without jumping through hoops. So, it goes without saying that the less deposit and withdrawal options offered, the more likely it will negatively impact a lottery site’s final ranking.
Lottery sites have a system in place for claiming prizes. Usually, when a player wins a small sum, lottery sites automatically deposit it to the winner’s account. However, should a player win a prize that goes beyond a lottery site’s predetermined threshold – say, an astronomically ginormous jackpot – then winners are usually required to appear in person to claim their money. This could mean that you would have to arrange and pay for travel to another country to claim your winnings. If a legitimate lottery site offers to claim your winnings on your behalf, kudos to them but please make sure you understand what this entails.
It should be a no-brainer that any lottery site must have security measures in place – we’re talking about tons of daily financial transactions that need to be protected. First and foremost, I check if a lottery site utilizes SSL encryption to protect customer data. Likewise, I check whether a site also has other verified trust logos on display – both indicators of a secure site.
It is also critically important for lottery sites to be regulated by a gambling commission. An online lottery company that has undergone a rigorous process to obtain licensing not only ensures their business’ legitimacy, but also ensures that winners are awarded their respective prizes accordingly. Sites that do not have good security measures in place and/or are not regulated by a gambling commission makes me think twice about reviewing them, let alone buying a ticket!
Flexibility = Mobile App
Last but not least, I look at an online lottery site’s flexibility; Can playersaccess a website using a mobile device? Those that offer dedicated mobile apps get top marks, especially if their apps offer the same experience as their full-fledged websites. Sometimes, there are lottery sites that don’t offer dedicated mobile apps but do have a mobile-optimized website – meaning their website will automatically adjust to fit your mobile device’s screen.
A dedicated mobile app is still the best way to get the most out of an online lottery’s features when you are on the go, but a mobile-optimized site usually works just fine. So, for those that do not offer any mobile solution of any kind, expect me to deduct some points off the final tally. After all, we are in the age of the mobile app and instant gratification and access to information is crucial in our business and personal lives. Not only do I want to check my WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram or Viber on the go, I want the option to buy a lottery ticket from the metro, bistro or pub on my mobile!
The Bottom Line
No lottery site will ever be perfect – that’s pretty much a given, and I don’t expect any of the sites I review to be flawless. But, if a lottery site manages to provide at least a solid and secure user experience, then it’s a definite two thumbs up from me. Likewise, a poorly designed website with inadequate security measures is a turn off. The Lottery Critic researches and critiques websites and these are my opinions. But, you as the judge have the final say and click power!