Lottery – A Scheme For Distributing Prizes by Chance


a scheme for distributing prizes by chance

Although making decisions and determining fates by the casting of lots has a long record, state lotteries are rather recent inventions. They are now established in virtually every state. Although the arguments for and against lottery adoption have differed, in practice the resulting state lotteries have followed remarkably similar paths: the legislature establishes a state monopoly; it selects a public agency or corporation to run the lottery (as opposed to licensing private firms); it begins operations with a modest number of relatively simple games and then, as revenues grow, tries to maximize its revenue base by adding new games and increasing promotional expenditures. This tendency to promote gambling often puts the lotteries at cross-purposes with other important state concerns, such as social welfare programs for poor people or problem gamblers.

The key element in a lottery is the drawing, a procedure by which winning tickets are selected. A variety of mechanical methods are used for this purpose, but computers are becoming increasingly popular for the rapid, automated selection of winning numbers and symbols. A second requirement is the pool of tickets or their counterfoils from which winners are chosen, and a third is a mechanism for passing money paid for tickets up through the organization to be banked in order to pay prizes. A percentage of ticket sales normally goes as profits or revenues to the lottery and sponsors, leaving a portion for prizes.