Mega Millions mania: Here's everything you need to know about playing the lottery in Maryland

The Mega Millions jackpot has reached a record $1.6 billion, while the Powerball prize hovers at $620 million.

Here’s what you need to know about playing the popular lottery games in Maryland.

Who can play?

Players must be 18 or older to buy and cash tickets.

How much are tickets?

Mega Millions tickets cost $2 each, or $3 for Mega Millions tickets with Megaplier, an option that can increase non-jackpot winnings by two, three, four or five times.

Powerball tickets are also $2 apiece, or $3 for tickets with the Power Play option, which can multiply non-jackpot winnings by two, three, four, five or 10 times.

What are the odds of winning?

Current odds for winning the Mega Millions jackpot are estimated at about 1 in 302 million.

The odds of taking home the Powerball grand prize are about 1 in 292 million.

How jackpot got to $1 billion: Mega Millions and Powerball have been manipulating the odds »

What’s the difference between the games?

Mega Millions players receive a playslip with five areas: A, B, C, D and E. In each area, players select five numbers between 1 and 70 in the upper field and mark one Mega Ball number between 1 and 25 in the lower field.

For Powerball, players pick five numbers and a Powerball number between one and 26.

Where can I buy tickets?

More than 4,500 retailers across Maryland sell lottery tickets, including convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and grocery stores, according to the Maryland Lottery. Customers can find locations here.

How do I claim my winnings?

Winners in Maryland have 182 days after the drawing date to claim their prize. Winners of tickets up to $600 can redeem them at Maryland Lottery retailers, at any of the state’s six casinos or at the Maryland Lottery’s office in Baltimore, 1800 Washington Blvd.

Winning tickets up to $5,000 can be redeemed at any Maryland Lottery Expanded Cashing Authority Program (XCAP) retailer, at the lottery’s Baltimore office or at Maryland casinos.

For winning tickets between $5,001 and $25,000, tickets can be redeemed at the lottery’s Baltimore office, at the MGM National Harbor casino or Live Casino & Hotel in Hanover.

And winning tickets valued at $25,001 or more must be redeemed at the lottery’s office in Baltimore.

Prizes of any value can also be claimed by mail.

How can I receive the money if I win? What about taxes?

Winners have the option of taking a one-time cash prize or in 30 installments over 29 consecutive years. For the $1.6 billion Mega Millions jackpot, for example, the cash option is $904.9 million.

Lottery prizes more than $5,000 are subject to state and federal taxes, meaning winners in Maryland take home about two-thirds of the total prize money. For Maryland residents, 8.75 percent of the prize is withheld for state taxes; 7.5 percent is withheld for non-Maryland residents who buy tickets in the state; and 24 percent goes to federal taxes.

If I win, do I need to publicly identify myself?

No. Maryland is one of a handful of states that allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.

Should I seek legal or financial advice if I win?

Lottery officials strongly recommend winners seek tax and financial advice from professionals, particularly because tax laws can be complicated and change often.

When are the next drawings?

Mega Millions drawing occur on Tuesdays and Fridays. The next Mega Millions drawing is set for 11 p.m. Oct. 23. Ticket sales cease 15 minutes prior to the drawing.

Powerball drawings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The next Powerball drawing is at 11:22 p.m. Oct. 24.

smeehan@baltsun.com

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