History, Definitions & Examples of Lottery


A lottery is a form of gambling where multiple people buy tickets for a small price in order to have a chance of winning a large sum of money, sometimes running into millions of dollars. They are also known as financial lotteries and are typically run by state or federal governments.

History, Definitions & Examples of Lottery

The use of lotteries for material gain is of recent origin. Although the practice is traced back to ancient times, it is a relatively recent development, especially when compared to other methods of determining the distribution of land and property.

Lotteries have a long record of public support, particularly in states where the proceeds are seen as benefiting a specific public good such as education. They have also been criticized for being an addictive form of gambling.

Despite this, some have argued that lotteries are an effective way to raise revenue for public projects, and they have played an important role in financing road construction, libraries, churches, colleges, canals, bridges, and other public works. In addition, they have served as a popular form of entertainment and have been used to give away property and slaves during Saturnalian feasts.

The evolution of state lotteries, which have tended to evolve piecemeal and incrementally over time, is a classic example of public policy being made by fragmented groups with little or no common overview. These fragments include a wide range of political and administrative entities, some of which quickly become accustomed to the extra revenues that accrue. They may be less concerned with the overall welfare of the public, however.