An official lottery is one that is sanctioned by a government body. The lottery is operated by an authorized representative and has specific rules and regulations to ensure fairness for all players. For example, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation is the official lottery for the state of Connecticut. It sells fanfolded tickets with a common Pack Number.
Typically, winnings are not paid out in a lump sum. Winners may elect to receive an annuity payment instead of a one-time payment. However, this is often less than the advertised jackpot when time value of money is taken into consideration and income taxes are applied. Moreover, withholdings vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
In the Low Countries, the first recorded lotteries were organized for the purpose of raising money for various purposes. For example, some towns held public lotteries to raise money for the poor or for fortifications. There are even records from the 14th century indicating the existence of such lotteries in Ghent. In an entry dated 9 May 1445, the town of L’Ecluse mentions that they were holding a lottery to raise funds for walls and fortifications. At the time, the prize was worth 1737 florins, which is nearly US$170,000 in today’s terms.
Today, 42 states have their own official lottery. They offer several different multi-state games, some of which are highly popular. Some states also have online lottery subscription services.