A gambling game or method of raising money, usually for some public or charitable purpose, in which a large number of tickets are sold and a drawing is held for prizes. In a lottery, the prizes may range from small items to large sums of money. The prize winners are chosen by chance and the arrangement is often regulated.
The first lotteries were organized in the Low Countries in the 15th century for such purposes as building town fortifications or helping the poor. The word lotteriey probably derives from Italian lotto, from the same Germanic root as lot, portion, share (compare Old English and Old Frisian hlot; see lot). In the 18th century the practice of holding regular state-sponsored lotteries was introduced to America by French colonists.
In the United States, state laws regulate the lottery and a lottery division is responsible for selecting and training retailers and employees, selling tickets, redeeming winning tickets, paying high-tier prizes, assisting retailers in promoting lotteries, and ensuring that retail workers and players comply with state law. Some states have a separate lottery commission, while others delegate the responsibility to a state agency or department.
The average American spends 24 percent of their lottery winnings in federal taxes. But the very rich, those in the top quintile of income distribution, pay much more. It’s regressive.