Lottery – Raising Money For Public Purposes


Lottery is a game in which numbers are drawn at random and winners are awarded prizes, often monetary. A lottery may be a government-sponsored or privately run game, and is used to raise money for various purposes such as public works projects, education, and social welfare programs. While there are some critics of lotteries, a number of studies have shown that they can be an effective tool for raising money for a variety of public purposes.

In the United States, state governments are the primary operators of lotteries, and in most cases a portion of proceeds are given to charities or public programs. Many of these are school-based, and the amounts can be large enough to make a noticeable difference in some schools. In some cases, these funds can even offset cuts to a school’s budget.

The word “lottery” is believed to be derived from Middle Dutch loterie, which is a calque of Old French loterie, itself a calque of Middle Dutch lotinge, “action of drawing lots”. The earliest recorded lotteries were held in the Low Countries during the 15th century to raise money for town fortifications and poor relief.

In the US, 44 states and Washington, DC offer state-sponsored lotteries. The six states that don’t offer a lottery are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Utah and Nevada, where gambling is prohibited for religious reasons or the state governments are hesitant to get involved in competing with casinos in Las Vegas.