How to Play the Official Lottery

Official lottery is an activity in which people pay money to participate in a drawing. Unlike other forms of gambling, where the result is not necessarily known, lottery draws are always decided by chance.

Historically, lotteries were used to raise funds for public projects such as the building of churches and for civil defense. They were also a popular way to fund colleges and universities, as well as aid for veterans.

State lotteries, however, quickly found themselves under attack from opponents who questioned both the ethics of funding public services through gambling and the amount that states actually stood to gain. In particular, anti-lottery groups hailed from both sides of the political aisle and all walks of life, including devout Protestants who viewed government-sanctioned lotteries as morally unconscionable.

In the 1970s, as a result of widespread public criticism, some states began to rethink their approach to the lottery. They abandoned their original premise that it would fill the coffers of state governments and replaced it with a narrower one-liner: that, by generating revenue that did not increase state taxes, a lottery could fund a popular service such as education, elder care, public parks or veterans.

To protect players from scams, state lottery commissions use a range of tactics to ensure the safety of lottery patrons. These include: