What is the Lottery?


The lottery is a game in which players select a set of numbers and are awarded prizes depending on how many match a second set chosen by chance. In the United States, state governments operate lotteries as monopolies and use the proceeds to fund government programs. State lotteries are regulated by federal law and may not be competed with by private companies. The word lottery likely derives from the Middle Dutch word lotijn, which is a calque of the Old French loterie, which itself is a calque of the Latin lotium, meaning “dices.”

In an anti-tax era, state governments have become increasingly dependent on the “painless” revenue generated by lotteries, and there are constant pressures to increase them. One study found that the one factor common to every state financial crisis over the past couple of decades was the introduction of a new form of gambling, usually a lottery.

For some, lottery success is the realization of dreams. Others find it a nightmare. Many people who win the lottery lose their money. A certified financial planner told Business Insider that to avoid such a fate, lottery winners should assemble what he called a “financial triad,” consisting of family and friends who can help them plan for the future. Others like Richard Lustig, a retired chemical engineer who won seven grand prize jackpots in two decades of play, have used their winnings to buy dream houses, luxury cars, and globetrotting vacations with spouses.