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This post explains how to use the ticket lottery systems, both the online and in-person versions, to get discounted Broadway show tickets.
Broadway show ticket lotteries are exactly what their names imply with the exception that no money is exchanged unless you the winner.
Lottery winners can score deep discounts on tickets and usually for premium seats, including $10 tickets for Hamilton.
Lotteries are a chance to get great last minute deals, but relying on a lottery might mean that regular priced tickets could be sold out once you decide to go the full price route.
Not all shows participate in lotteries, but many top shows do.
In the sections below, we list the shows as of the date listed below of the shows that are currently offering lotteries. We updated this post approximately every 3 months.
Before you read on, consider listening to an episode of our NYC Travel Tips podcast that covers discounted Broadway tickets.
This podcast offers bite-sized audio clips with tips on how to plan your trip to NYC. You can get our podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
There are two types of ticket lotteries in NYC.
One is a digital online lottery system that you can enter daily via a website or app to get a chance to buy discounted tickets.
The other is an in-person lottery where you wait in line at the box office for the specific show you want to see that night.
In the sections below, we also detail each option and what to expect.
Digital lotteries are accessed through a website or mobile app, so you will need access to a computer or preferably a smartphone or tablet.
Currently, there are four companies that have digital lotteries, Broadway Direct, Lucky Seat, Telecharge, and TodayTix.
Each lottery is run independently by each company. Also, not all shows participate in the lottery system, so it’s best to have a few choices of shows you are interested in seeing.
You can enter lotteries for as many different shows as you want (if they offer a lottery). But you can only win for one of the shows in the time slot you entered.
Each show only allows one entry per person to win two tickets for that specific show and showtime.
However, you are eligible to win tickets for different showtimes, for example, a matinee and an 8 pm show.
Tickets usually cost between $30 and $49 and vary by the show (Hamilton is just $10).
There is no charge to enter any digital lottery so the price listed is what you will pay only if you win.
As of February 2020, these are the shows offering a digital lottery:
When to enter a lottery
Usually, the show lottery is available to enter 24 hours before the performance.
Check with each digital lottery operator for their rules. You must be 18 to enter.
Some shows offer the ability to enter a lottery via their website, or through a lottery app, you must download onto your mobile device.
Each show has its own website or app where you can enter the digital lottery.
How to find out if you won tickets
After you enter, you will be notified by email whether you win or lose. If you win, you will be sent an email to pay with a credit card.
IMPORTANT: You’ll have 60 minutes from the time of email notification to purchase the tickets. Seats are assigned at the discretion of the box office and cannot be transferred to other people or performances.
After you pay and receive your payment confirmation, you can pick up your tickets at the theater’s box office no less than 30 minutes before showtime.
Make sure to bring a valid photo ID.
If you used Telecharge or TodayTix, check with the individual show’s lottery website where you entered the lottery.
A handful of shows also hold a lottery drawing 2 or 2.5 hours before the curtain time.
To participate, you must go to the individual box offices, which normally open at 10 am to enter.
These tickets are usually in the front half of the orchestra section and cost between $25 and $35 dollars.
Each lottery may have slightly different procedures in terms of the start time, and payment accepted so check with the box office of that theater for details.
Some shows only accept cash for lottery tickets, so be sure you check with the box office.
Each person can enter their name one time. You can get up to 2 tickets if your name is drawn.
TIP: If there are two of you, each of you should enter the lottery – this will double your chances!
For the most up-to-date information, check with individual show box offices for in-person lotteries.
As of February 2020 – only Wicked is running an in-person lottery.
By the way, before we list other options, keep us in mind, Free Tours by Foot. We offer daily guided and self-guided walking tours of NYC.
If you are considering purchasing a tourist attraction discount pass, the New York Pass entitles you to up to 10% on Broadway shows.
These passes can save you up to 55% off the retail price by bundling together tickets to various tours and attractions.
To find out if getting a tourist past is right for you, our post, New York City Attraction Passes: Which One Is the Best to Buy will help you make that decision.
As we mentioned above, you can get discounted tickets through TodayTix. This is a website that offers discounted tickets up to 30 days in advance.
For additional information, please see our detailed post, How to Get Discount Broadway Tickets.
Prices are highest on Friday and Saturday evenings, so change things up by visiting on a weekday night.
Show tickets tend to be less expensive in spring or fall to avoid the peak prices of the summer and winter holidays.
This is a biannual event happens in January and September and allows guests to purchase two tickets for the price of one.
Check the official New York City website for Broadway Week information.