Official Lottery is a free app for iOS and Android devices that allows players to scan a ticket, check winning numbers, purchase select games and find New York lottery retailers. Players must be 18 years or older to play. Msg & data rates may apply. Download the app and Play Responsibly.

In 1967, the New York state legislature passed a constitutional amendment creating a government-run lottery, promising to direct all lottery revenue toward education. Since then, New York’s lottery proceeds have raised billions of dollars and continue to support schooling in the state.

But the lottery’s popularity and public acclaim has also created two big problems. First, it’s made it harder to pass much-needed tax increases, because, as Cohen points out, many voters believe that their schools and other services are lavishly funded with gambling money. Second, lottery revenues are highly regressive: the money collected from players is concentrated among those with the least to spend.

The fact is that state lotteries aren’t immune to the same economic fluctuations as other businesses, and their sales have historically increased when incomes decline, unemployment rises, and poverty rates increase. In addition, as with all commercial products, lottery promotions are heavily weighted towards neighborhoods disproportionately affected by these issues. And finally, as with all forms of gambling, the vast majority of lottery profits are derived from a relatively small percentage of participants who play regularly. As the number of regular players decreases, so too will the amount that those who play regularly win.