This post explains how to use the ticket lottery systems, both the online and in-person versions, to get discounted Broadway show tickets.
- What are Ticket Lotteries
- Digital Lotteries
- In-Person Lotteries
- More Discount Options
- FAQs Regarding Lotteries
- Free Things to Do in NYC
WHAT ARE BROADWAY SHOW TICKET LOTTERIES?
Broadway show ticket lotteries are exactly what the name implies, with the exception that no money is exchanged unless you are the winner.
Lottery winners can score deep discounts on tickets and usually for premium seats, including $10 tickets for Hamilton and some of the other best Broadway shows and musicals.
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.
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 detail each option and what to expect.
Digital lotteries are accessed through a website or mobile app, so you will need to have access to a computer or preferably a smartphone or tablet.
Currently, four companies have digital lotteries, Broadway Direct, Lucky Seat, Telecharge, and TodayTix.
Each lottery is run independently by those companies. 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 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.
For example, if you enter the lottery for Hamilton and Wicked for an 8 pm showing on the same night, you can only win one of those shows in that time slot.
However, you are eligible to win tickets for different showtimes, for example, matinee performances and evening performances.
Lottery prices usually cost between $30 and $49 per ticket 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.
These are the Broadway shows that have a digital lottery:
Offered through Broadway Direct:
Offered through Lucky Seat:
Offered through Telecharge Lotteries:
Offered through TodayTix Lotteries:
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (if you don't win, you might find discounted tickets here)
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 that you must download onto your mobile device.
Each show has a 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 (and in some cases text notification as well) whether you have won tickets or not. If you win, you will be sent an email with instructions on how to pay with a credit card.
IMPORTANT: You’ll have 60 minutes from the time of email notification to purchase the tickets. If you do not pay within that purchase period, you will lose the tickets.
Seat locations are assigned at the discretion of the box office and may be in any section of the theater. Since you are not choosing your seat, there's always a chance that your seat may have a partial view of the stage.
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.
Once you’ve entered through Broadway Direct or Lucky Seat, you can check whether you’ve won by looking at their websites: Broadway Direct and Lucky Seat.
For additional information on digital lotteries with these two companies, see their websites: Broadway Direct and Lucky Seat.
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 two or two and a half hours before the curtain time.
To participate, you must go to the individual box offices on the day of the performance. Box offices generally open at 10 am, but it's a good idea to call a theater in advance to double-check when their box office opens.
These tickets are usually in the front half of the orchestra section and cost between $25 and $35.
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.
As there is a limited number of tickets available for lotteries, each person can enter their name only 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!
Additional information on shows with in-person lotteries can be found on the Broadway for Broke People website and the Broadway World website.
For the most up-to-date information, check with individual show box offices for in-person lotteries.
OTHER TIPS ON GETTING DISCOUNTED TICKETS
By the way, before we list other options, keep us in mind, Free Tours a pie.
We offer daily guided and self-guided walking tours of NYC.
NYC Tourist Attraction Pass Discounts
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 pass is right for you, our post, New York City Attraction Passes: Which One Is the Best to Buy will help you make that decision.
Buy tickets through a discount website.
Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.
You can also find deals on Groupon, Living Socialy Goldstar, sometimes as much as 50% off.
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. (There is also a TodayTix app).
Two other popular discount sites that offer reduced-price tickets are Broadwaybox or Theatermania.
Also, look at StubHub and TicketsNow as they offer retail and resale tickets so some of their tickets are sold at less than face value cost.
For additional information, please see our detailed post, How to Get Discount Broadway Tickets.
Attend mid-week shows.
Prices are highest for weekend performances on Friday and Saturday evenings, so change things up by going to weekday performances.
Don't forget that Monday is the one weekday that most shows are "dark" meaning no performances are taking place.
Attend in the off-season.
Show tickets tend to be less expensive in spring or fall to avoid the peak prices of the summer and winter holidays.
Attend during “Broadway Week”.
This is a biannual event that happens in January and September and allows patrons to purchase two tickets for the price of one.
Check the official New York City website for Broadway Week information.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How hard is it to win the Broadway lottery?
If you are wondering how likely it is to win a Broadway lottery, here’s an answer that will give you a general picture of your chances.
The odds of winning a Broadway lottery ticket depend on two things: first, the number of tickets the show makes available for that day and how many people enter that show’s lottery.
Most shows base the number of lottery tickets on the number of unsold tickets. It’s impossible to say how many tickets will be available for a particular performance.
As an example, let’s say the average is about 20 tickets per show.
If 1,000 people enter that show’s lottery, and each of those people asks for two tickets, the odds of winning are 1 in 100.
Can you win a Broadway lottery twice?
You are allowed to enter as many lotteries as you want but only once for each show.
If you enter lotteries for several shows on the same date and showtime, you can win tickets for only one of the shows you entered.
However, if you enter lotteries for shows at different showtimes, like a matinee and an evening performance, it’s possible to win the lottery twice that day.
Are Broadway lottery tickets seated together?
While theaters make every effort to offer winners of the lottery seats together, they do state that there is a chance pairs may be split up. It all depends on the availability of seats.
But don’t let this possibility deter you from signing up for a lottery.
There is no obligation to pay anything until you win seats. At that point, you will be asked to confirm that you want the tickets and pay for them.
If you don't like the seats, don't purchase them and some other lucky people on the list will get them.