The casting of lots has a long history in human decision-making and divination, but state lotteries are more recent. When America’s tax revolt of the late nineteen-sixties collided with a crisis in state funding, legislators saw a new way to get people to voluntarily spend money for public goods: the official lottery.

Initially, state lotteries were little more than traditional raffles, with players purchasing tickets for a drawing at some distant time in the future. In the early 1970s, however, innovations were introduced that changed the game dramatically. Among other things, the first legal games allowed patrons to select their own numbers, thereby making them feel more like active participants (even though their actual odds of winning remained unchanged). The introduction of these instant games caused revenues to expand dramatically, but they soon leveled off and began to decline. To keep revenues up, the industry kept introducing new games.

Today, most states operate official lotteries that are run as a business, with limited oversight by legislatures or state officials who have no direct stake in the lottery’s success. As a result, the evolution of state lotteries has been remarkably uniform.

As a result of the growth in online gambling, many state governments have loosened their regulations to allow for a greater number of private operators. Some of these companies offer a range of state-approved games, including daily numbers games. Moreover, these online sites are often more convenient and affordable than traveling to a physical location. In addition, players can take advantage of a range of additional features that aren’t available at official state lotteries.