About official lottery
The word “lottery” comes from a French term meaning “to draw or to select from a pool.” Lotteries in the United States are run by state governments. They are regulated by the laws of each jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions also run national or regional lottery games.
Unlike other forms of gambling, lottery games do not require payment for a consideration (such as property, work, or money) before a person can win. A bettor purchases tickets, and the numbers on which these bets are staked are entered into a pool for possible selection in a drawing. The winner(s) may choose to receive the prize in cash or property.
In most large-scale lotteries, ticket sales and bets are recorded by computers. In smaller ones, a bettor writes his or her name on a ticket or buys a receipt that is entered into a pool of numbers.
The lottery has a history that goes back to the seventeenth century. It helped finance the settlement of Europe and was a common form of entertainment in early America. It became a political symbol in the nineteenth century. It was often used to deflect criticism of the slave trade and to ease friction with the police, who were sometimes suspicious of lottery winners and who used number games as a reason to arrest people of color.
As the twentieth century began, American politicians began to see lotteries as a means of avoiding taxes–a politically popular solution. But by the nineteen-seventies, with a recession in the economy and the tax revolt gaining momentum, they were no longer able to sell them as silver bullets; instead, lottery advocates turned to other strategies. They promoted them as a way to maintain existing government services–usually education, but also parks and aid to veterans.