Lotteries are forms of gambling in which participants attempt to win money or goods by matching random-generated numbers with those drawn at random. Some governments outlaw lottery, while others embrace it and organize state or national lotteries as a means of encouraging civic participation and raising funds for various causes. Government regulation oversees operations of lottery systems while many states also maintain lottery divisions to select retailers, train retail employees to use terminals and redeem winning tickets, pay prize amounts and ensure compliance with state law.

Drawing lots to make decisions or determine fates has a long tradition dating back to Biblical times, with several accounts occurring within its pages. While modern public lotteries that award money prizes have more recently emerged and become widely popular across nations. Lotteries first used publicly with money prizes were likely first operated publicly as far back as 1476 by the d’Este family of Modena for municipal or charitable fundraising efforts.

State governments promote lotteries as a source of “painless” revenue: players voluntarily spend their money, while the state collects taxes without creating additional burdens on its population. Once established, lotteries enjoy strong public support: over 60% of adults play at least once annually in states that operate a lottery.

State-sponsored lotteries first emerged in the US during 1776 when Benjamin Franklin used lotteries to raise money for cannons to defend Philadelphia against British invasion during the American Revolution. By 1800, lotteries had become widely used by governments and licensed promoters as an easy means of funding projects such as building the British Museum and bridge repairs; their popularity even persisted during American Independence War itself until 1826 when they were banned altogether, providing funds for various civic activities from buying land to providing weapons against British invaders.

Lotterie games provide prizes in various amounts that vary widely depending on ticket sales and matching random selections. Some state-sponsored lotteries provide one large prize while others may award multiple smaller ones; prize pools may even include portions of sales profits as well as costs related to promotion.

Private and commercial lotteries provide an alternative to state-sponsored lotteries by operating without taxes on profits, allowing for larger prize amounts. Furthermore, these private/commercial operations can sell tickets to people not living within their state of operation whereas state-sponsored lotteries must abide by residency requirements – leading some states to limit the number of lottery licenses given out exclusively for commercial/private operations.