Kevin Moriarty/Missoula Current

For the first time ever, Montanans can now play official state lottery games like Powerball and Mega Million’s from home using a smartphone.

Jackpocket is not an online lottery but operates similar to services like DoorDash and Instacart. When a customer plays the lottery through the Jackpocket app, an employee of the company purchases a physical ticket at a licensed retailer.

The physical ticket is then stored at a fulfillment center in Missoula and the player can view relevant ticket information inside the app. The Jackpot app marks a partnership with Montana State Lottery and it went live in early July.

“We're just a third party that's facilitating a transaction between a customer and official state retailer,” said founder and CEO of Jackpocket, Peter Sullivan.

Players who win any amount under $600 can immediately redeem that money through the app. Players who win more than that can choose to have the ticket securely mailed to them, or they can pick it up in person at the fulfillment center in Missoula.

Sullivan said that in many ways, Jackpocket is a safer way to play the lottery. Traditional lottery tickets can be lost or stolen and do not have an identity attached to them until they are signed.

Jackpocket verifies a player’s ID before they purchase a ticket, and once a ticket is purchased, users receive an email that acts as proof of ownership and includes the ticket’s serial number.

“Say you drop that ticket, your wife is mad at you and she runs away with that ticket, there's no way to prove whose ticket that was,” said Sullivan, “With Jackpocket there's actually a piece of proof that says, hey listen, this ticket belongs to this person.”

Montana’s lottery celebrated its 35th anniversary in June and has a player base of around 200,000. Montana’s lottery began offering sports betting services in March of 2020, which significantly increased its revenue. In fiscal year 2021 the lottery generated a total of nearly $114 Million.

Most of the revenue generated by the lottery goes back to paying winners, but a sizeable chunk gets invested back into the state. A set amount of money is dedicated each year to a STEM scholarship fund for students and what’s left over goes into the state's general fund, which ended up being $12.7 Million in the 2021 fiscal year.

While Jackpocket does not offer scratch offs or sports betting, this new way to play the lottery could be especially appealing to rural residents of Montana who may have to go out of their way to pick up a lottery ticket at the nearest convenience store.

Sullivan said the Jackpocket app aims to engage a younger, more tech-savvy generation with the lottery, but also make playing the lottery easier and more convenient for long time players.

The app adheres to guidelines set by the National Council on Problem Gambling and encourages players to gamble responsibly with limits on funding and spending from a user’s account.

Jackpocket is currently operating in 12 states throughout the US and plans to launch in at least five more in the coming months. It entered Montana with its own marketing dollars and hopes to bring the lottery to the top-of-mind of residents in the state.

With 70% of current Jackpocket users being under the age of 45, it has the potential to bring the lottery to a new demographic of players and generate increased revenue for the state of Montana.

“A really cool part of my job is when I get to call people and congratulate them that they actually won,” said Sullivan, “We just had our 15th Millionaire happen last week.”