What is a Lottery?


A lottery is a type of gambling in which people choose a set of numbers and then try to win a prize. There are many different types of lottery games, including instant-win scratch-offs and daily games where players have to pick three or four numbers.

The History of Lotteries

The earliest recorded lotteries to offer tickets for sale with prizes in the form of money were held in the Low Countries during the 15th century to raise funds for town fortifications and to help the poor. A record from 9 May 1445 in L’Ecluse indicates that a lottery was held to raise funds for town fortifications; the winning ticket won 1737 florins (worth about US$170,000 in 2014).

State Lotteries

In the United States, most states and the District of Columbia have some kind of state-sponsored lottery. They are run by a lottery commission or board and usually involve the selection, licensing and training of retailers to sell the tickets and the merchandising of the games.

Lottery Retailers

Most state lotteries work closely with their retailers to maximize sales and improve merchandising and advertising strategies. They have launched Internet sites that provide information about game promotions, allow retailers to view individual sales data and access lottery personnel online.

Lottery Pools

A lottery pool is a group of people who buy a set of tickets from the same retailer for one or more prizes, or to win a single jackpot. The leader of the group is responsible for overseeing the pool and collecting money, buying tickets and posting winning numbers. Members are responsible for providing funds to the leader by a designated deadline.