Broadway ticket lotteries are fast becoming the cheapest way to see a great Broadway show at a deep discount price
Broadway Ticket Lotteries Started in 1995
The Broadway lottery ticket model was developed by the producers of Rent back in 1995 to create interest in their show and to keep a few tickets for the show within price-reach of fans who cannot afford the steep prices that Broadway shows had escalated to. That sentiment is even more appropriate today.
Providing the ticket lottery also stops die-hard's from camping out overnight on the New York City streets for the General Rush tickets, as many Broadway shows may annoy neighboring businesses if they allowed General Rush tickets to get out-of-hand.
Broadway lottery tickets are a great solution as it doesn't cause havoc on the street and the show benefits from the buzz and goodwill that it creates.
Ticket Prices and Quantities at Which Broadway Shows
At a cost of $25 - $40 for front row orchestra tickets, the Broadway ticket lottery provides an excellent way to get amazing discounts on Broadway tickets. Some shows offer 20 pairs of tickets, while others only do 15 tickets in total per show. Most of the top 10 shows on Broadway provide a ticket lottery and this guide will help you understand that process.
Lottery Rules Vary Show to Show
The rules for the lottery (ticket price, time of lottery drawing, etc.) vary for the different Broadway shows, and we detail each of the rules in our Broadway Discount Tickets Guide for each Broadway show.
Getting Broadway Lottery Tickets On The Day Instead of In-Advance
Lottery Tickets Only Available on the Day-Of-The-Show
The downside of Broadway lottery tickets is that they are only available on the day-of-the-show and you must be present to enter the lottery. Many people who have jobs in New York City do not find this very easy to do, so a lot of the time it is informed tourists that show up for the lottery. The shows that provide lotteries do it for every performance of the show.
Government ID Is Required
To stop people from entering the lottery more than once, most ticket lotteries require to see government ID in order to be able to enter the lottery. There is no charge to enter the lottery. If you win, you are allowed to buy amazing tickets for around $30 to some of the top shows.
Cash Only For Lottery Tickets
As the lottery tickets are already priced so low, at a price that is actually a loss to the Broadway producer, the last thing the show will want to do is lose even more money by paying credit card processing fees for people who want to pay using a credit card. This means that all lottery ticket purchases have to be cash.
No banknotes bigger than $20 are accepted. It seems many people forget about the cash-only requirement and turn up to the lottery with no cash, they end up winning the lottery and then they cannot buy the tickets, as they do not take credit cards at the box office for these kinds of tickets. Please don't be one of these people. It's hard enough to win the lottery for the top Broadway shows, let alone lose that opportunity for not bringing enough cash.
Lottery Winners Are Excluded for a Year
Many shows instituted a ban for a year for all winners, as some ticket brokers would turn up daily with all their staff and resell the tickets.
Therefore, if you win the ticket lottery, you are not allowed to enter the same lottery for a year.
Single Winners Have to Make a Choice
Each lottery ticket winner gets to choose either one or two tickets, so it is inevitable that the lottery ends up with just one ticket left (especially given that they often have an odd number of tickets to give away). It's at this point that the last winner needs to make a choice whether they are going by themselves, or not at all.
Most people who turn up for the lottery plan to see a show with someone else, so quite often many people will pass on the last ticket, as not to upset their partner, but they stay to see if they win the lottery anyway.
Best Seats in the House
Most Broadway shows offer the best seats in the house via the ticket lottery, including the front two rows and also include any unsold house seats. This makes the Broadway ticket lottery the best bargain on Broadway
Same Day Lottery Does Not Work for Everyone
Obviously the Broadway ticket lottery is great value, but the fact that it only happens on the day of the show doesn't work for a lot of people who want to plan ahead. This is especially true for international and domestic visitors to New York City, or people who work in local businesses in NYC who cannot get out of work to go to the lottery. In those cases, buying tickets ahead using discount codes may be a better option.
Our Recommendation for Visitors
The strategy that works best for visitors is to buy Broadway tickets using discount codes well ahead of your arrival date. Buy tickets for shows that are not in the top 5 Broadway best sellers. Inventory will be good and ticket bargains will readily available by buying early.
On the day of the show, go and try your hand at the ticket lottery at one or more of the top 5 shows. If you are successful, take your spare tickets down to the TKTS booth in Times Square and sell them to someone in line, tell them what happened. Visitors have a great knack of recognizing other visitors and don't feel they are being scammed, especially if you allow them to take a photo with you on their camera phone.
If you are unsuccessful in the ticket lottery, don't worry, just go and see the original show that you have tickets for, you will often be pleasantly surprised by the quality of shows on Broadway. An older show that is not in the top 5 today, was at one time, a hit show, so its still the same quality and will provide tremendous enjoyment.
Very often visitors will want to see the very latest hit Broadway show, so as to keep up with Jones's. But there are some amazing shows on Broadway that have been here for many years, EG. Phantom of the Opera. BUY DISCOUNT BROADWAY TICKETS
Ticket Lottery Schedule
You can see the -up-to-date lottery schedule at: Broadway Ticket Lottery Schedule