The following states participate in the Mega Millions lottery game:
California (joined in 2005; it is the newest member)
Georgia (original member; had offered Powerball but dropped out when the Big Game began)
New Jersey (1999)
New York (2002)
Ohio (2002; New York and Ohio joined at the same time when Mega Millions began)
All other states which operate a lottery participate in Powerball except for Florida which does not participate in either multi-state game (though its lottery law allows it to later join either game if it wishes).
States without a date listed above are the six original Big Game members. New Jersey is the only state to be added in the Big Game era (September 1996-May 2002).
Mega Millions ticket is 18, regardless of participating state. In most of these states, with the exception of Virginia, minors can win on tickets received as gifts; the rules according to each state vary for minors receiving prizes.
Unlike Powerball, there are significant differences in play style among a number of the Mega Millions states:
California's eight lower-tier prize levels (as well as the jackpot) are pari-mutuel. Its second prize often rolls over, and has paid over $1 million (cash) on multiple occasions.
New York requires the jackpot choice (cash or annuity) to be made when the ticket is bought.
Ohio has a Kicker game than can be played only with Mega Millions. A six-digit number is printed on all Ohio Mega Millions tickets, regardless if the Kicker is activated.
Texas is the other Mega Millions state that requires the payment choice to be made before winning, instead of after. (This also applies to its Lotto Texas.) Likewise, it is the only state with the Megaplier (see above).
Georgia and New Jersey, while requiring the cash/annuity choice when playing, allows an annuity ticket to be changed to lump sum when claiming (a cash ticket cannot be changed, however). The jackpot choice in New York and Texas is binding. The game-wide cash option started after federal regulations signed by then-President Bill Clinton no longer required the choice to be made when playing.
Mega Millions winners have from 180 days to one year to claim prizes, including the jackpot (although some winners lose the right to collect a jackpot in cash if they wait more than 60 days after the drawing).
The attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 resulted in the state of New York passing legislation that included joining a multi-state lottery game. Separately, Ohio also voted as such. Both states opted to join the then-Big Game (on May 15, 2002) and its seven members. The added populations of the two new states, in turn, led to a larger double matrix (actually, the first machine continued to hold 52 balls, while 16 gold balls were added in the second, meaning there were 52 numbers to pick from in each part of a $1 game.) At this time, the game was renamed Mega Millions.
A budget impasse in New Jersey in June 2006 led to the temporary shutdown of less-important state agencies on July 1, 2006. Among the casualties were the Atlantic City casinos, and the New Jersey Lottery. Not only were the in-state games (such as New Jersey Pick 6) not drawn for about a week, but all its lottery terminals were shut down, meaning Mega Millions could not be played in the Garden State, even though Mega Millions was drawn as usual.