What is Lottery?

Lottery, in the sense used here, is a process of allocating prizes (usually money or goods) by chance, usually involving payment of a consideration. Examples of this include a lottery in which tickets are sold and then drawn for the opportunity to purchase a unit in a subsidized housing block, or a school-placement lottery in which people pay to be randomly assigned a place in a public kindergarten. It is distinguished from other types of gambling in which payment of a consideration (money, property, etc.) is required to have a chance of winning a prize, such as a casino game or commercial promotion in which the chances of success are determined by the number of paying customers.

People play lotteries for many reasons. A common motivation is that a large prize will change their lives in some way, such as a big jackpot or a dream vacation. They also might feel that their odds of winning are relatively long, compared to other ways to try to win money or goods. And, of course, they might just like to gamble.

But lottery participation differs by income, race/ethnicity, gender, and age, with men playing more than women; blacks and Hispanics playing more than whites; the young and the old playing less. In addition, research suggests that the wealthy tend to play more than those with lower incomes. The results of these differences, as well as other factors, are reflected in the distribution of state lottery revenues.