What is a Lottery?


A gambling game or method of raising money in which tickets are sold and a drawing is held for prizes. Lotteries have broad public approval and generate a large share of state revenues. They usually provide low-cost, high-volume revenue that is less sensitive to a government’s financial condition than other sources of taxation. Thus, they are an appealing option during economic stress when governments may need to raise taxes or cut programs.

Although people generally develop an intuitive sense of how likely it is that they will win the lottery, winning a big jackpot is far more difficult than many realize. As a result, lottery revenues often grow quickly after initial introduction and then level off or even decline. To maintain or increase revenues, companies constantly introduce new games.

These innovations often rely on the same logic: super-sized jackpots attract attention and drive ticket sales, while ensuring that most people will not win. Lottery play is also influenced by social and economic characteristics: men tend to play more than women; blacks and Hispanics play more than whites; and young people play less than older adults. Moreover, lottery play decreases with education and rises with income.