A state-sponsored game of chance in which numbered tickets are sold and prizes are given to those whose numbers are drawn at random. It is commonly used as a method of raising funds for public projects or charities.

Lottery has been popular with governments since the 17th century. The oldest known lottery was the Staatsloterij of the Netherlands, established in 1726. Many states now run their own lotteries, as well as multi-state games such as Powerball and Mega Millions. The emergence of these games has resulted in larger jackpots and greater interest in the game. In fact, large jackpots have been a key driver of lottery sales and in generating significant publicity for the game.

While the popularity of lotteries varies with the economic health of a state, they consistently win broad public approval when offered to benefit a particular public good such as education. Unlike a tax, lottery proceeds do not have the same transparent nature as other government revenues, which can make it hard for consumers to calculate and understand their implicit tax rate.

The most common elements of a lottery include a prize pool, some means for recording bettors’ identities and amounts staked, and a method for selecting winners. Typically, a percentage of the prize pool is allocated for administrative costs and profit, while the remainder is available to winners. This latter requirement can be a source of controversy as it may conflict with the state’s duty to protect the public welfare.