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Lottery games date back at least to the Chinese Han dynasty (205 and 187 BC). A later tradition was the public lotteries of the Low Countries, where towns raised funds for town fortifications and poor relief. In the United States, Keno is a popular game in some states. It resembles a casino game, with players selecting from a pool of 80 numbers. The more of the selected numbers that match those drawn, the larger the prize.

In the 21st through 60th percentile of income distribution, people tend to spend the most on lottery tickets. However, this money does not make up a large portion of their discretionary spending. Instead, they probably spend it on things like dining out or home entertainment.

Lottery revenues also come from the very poorest of Americans, who typically do not have enough disposable income to buy many lottery tickets. In fact, they may have less opportunity to invest in the American dream, for example, by starting a business or going to college. In addition, lottery money ends up being a drop in the bucket for actual state government budgets, according to some estimates. Only about 40 percent of lottery proceeds go to the state.