Official lottery is the term for games of chance that are officially sanctioned and run by state governments. These games are meant to provide proceeds for the state that can be used for things like public education or infrastructure without replacing existing funds from taxes. They can also offer individuals a way to win money that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get. The laws surrounding these games vary by state, but they all involve the conjunction of money and chance.

In the United States, the lottery has a long and sometimes rocky history. In the early 1800s, Denmark Vesey, an enslaved personin Charleston, South Carolina, won a lottery and used it to buy his freedom. Around the same time, religious and moral sensibilities started to turn against gambling of all kinds. Corruption was another factor in the change, as lotteries could sell tickets and then abscond with the proceeds without awarding them to winners.

State lawmakers have reacted to the changes in social attitudes toward gambling by trying to limit its reach and make it harder for people to play. They have introduced bills to prohibit advertising of state-sponsored games in counties with per-capita incomes below 150% of the poverty line and to ensure that ads don’t target specific demographics. However, these efforts have largely failed. A 2020 bill to ban state-sponsored gambling promotions altogether died in committee, and a separate proposal to require that lottery ads feature warnings about meth, alcohol, nicotine and other addictive substances has been defeated.