What is the Lottery?


The lottery is a form of gambling in which the prize allocation process relies on chance. The term has also been used to refer to other processes whose results depend on luck or chance, such as the assignment of judges in a case (Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition).

A key element in any lottery is some method for recording the identities and amounts staked by bettors. This may be as simple as the bettor writing his name on a ticket that is then deposited for shuffling and selection in the drawing or as sophisticated as an electronic system that records each bettor’s selected number(s) or other symbols.

Retailers, such as convenience stores and other types of shops, churches and fraternal organizations, service stations, restaurants and bars, and bowling alleys, usually sell lottery tickets. In addition, many state governments operate their own lotteries. These are monopolies that exclude other commercial lotteries and use the proceeds to fund state programs.

A survey of residents in lottery states in 2000 indicated that the most popular use of lottery proceeds was education. This was followed by roads/public transportation, long-term care for the elderly, and protecting the environment. A minority of respondents, however, favored some use of lottery funds to study the causes and prevention of problem gambling.