What is Lottery?


Lottery is the process of selecting tokens or symbols for a prize through an orderly procedure known as drawing lots. The prize is typically money or goods.

Lotteries are a form of gambling that can be addictive, and they can drain resources from families and communities. They are also sometimes tangled up with slavery, as when George Washington managed a lottery whose prizes included human beings and one formerly enslaved man won a South Carolina lottery and went on to foment a slave rebellion. The word is derived from Middle Dutch loterie, a calque on the Middle English phrase lotterye. It means “action of drawing lots.”

In modern times, a person buys a ticket and then writes his name or other symbols on it. The ticket is then deposited for shuffling and selection in a drawing, which determines the winners. Most of the time, there are multiple winners, and each person has an equal chance of winning. Some modern lotteries are computerized and require only a bettor to register his name and the number or symbol chosen.

Lottery is a common source of state revenue in the United States and many other countries. In fact, it helped finance the European settlement of America despite Protestant proscriptions against gambling. The colonial legislatures used lotteries to fund roads, libraries, churches, colleges, and other public works.