What is a Lottery?

What is a Lottery?


The act or fact of participating in a lottery.

The act or fact of winning something in a lottery.
The deciding of fates or the distribution of prizes by drawing lots has a long history in human society, including several instances in the Bible. Lotteries are popular with the general public and are easy to organize, making them an appealing form of raising funds for charitable or public purposes.

Most state governments adopted their first lotteries in the 1960s. Their advocates argue that lotteries raise large amounts of money without increasing taxes, and they are a good way to fund schools and other programs. Lottery supporters have tended to overlook the fact that state governments spend much more than they raise through the lottery.

In the United States, state lotteries have grown rapidly since their introduction. Almost all adopt their own versions of the model: they legislate a government monopoly; set up a public agency to run it; start operations with a modest number of relatively simple games; and, under pressure to generate new revenues, progressively expand the game offerings.

Because lotteries are businesses that rely on maximizing profits, their advertising necessarily centers on persuading target groups to spend more and more of their incomes. This approach raises questions about whether running a lottery is an appropriate function for a state, especially in light of concerns over problem gambling and the alleged regressive impact on low-income communities.