What is a Lottery?


A lottery is a contest where players buy tickets and have a chance to win prizes. These include money, jewelry, or a car.

Definition: A lottery is a game of chance in which the prize is selected at random from a large number of numbers. It is a form of gambling and is considered illegal by federal statute.

The word lottery comes from the Dutch noun “lot” and means “fate” or “luck”. It is related to the words lotto, lottery, and lottery ticket.


Lotteries have long been a popular way to raise funds for public projects and charities. They have been used to finance roads, libraries, churches, colleges, canals, wharves, and other public works projects.

Lottery laws vary from state to state, but the majority of them are established by the legislature. They often are delegated to a special lottery commission or board to administer. These divisions select and license retailers, train employees, help them sell tickets, pay high-tier prizes, and ensure that retailers and players follow the law and rules. They also make a range of other administrative decisions that relate to the operation of the lottery, including rules about the use of computerized systems for tracking tickets and determining winning numbers. They also regulate international mailings of lottery tickets.