The official lottery is the state-run game of chance where people spend money on tickets and hope to win. The government takes the money and uses it to help people or pay for things like schools.
History of the lottery
Lotteries have been around for centuries, and they are a common part of life in many countries. They are licensed or operated by governments in many African and Middle Eastern states, most European and Latin American nations, Australia, Japan, and several Asian mainland countries.
They can also be privately organized. In the United States, they often helped build college campuses and raised money for public causes, such as the Revolution.
Today’s state lotteries generate a small but important amount of revenue. But they are also regressive, taking a heavy toll on the poorest people.
The problem began when growing awareness about the gambling industry collided with a crisis in state funding. As Cohen explains, this made it difficult for states to balance their budgets without raising taxes or cutting services.
In the nineteen-sixties, as the nation became more prosperous but the burden of social welfare grew heavier, state officials struggled to keep their budgets from running over. They tried to raise revenues by cutting spending and raising taxes, but voters were wary of tax increases, especially when they were accompanied by noisy campaigns and heavy promotion.
Eventually, a group of pro-lottery forces began lobbying for the legalization of state lotteries. These were backed by powerful interests, including a pioneering lottery ticket manufacturer, Scientific Games.