What is a State Lottery?

state lottery

A state lottery is a game of chance in which players purchase chances to win a prize. State governments create and operate their own lotteries by enacting laws, generally specifying the length of time a winner has to claim a prize after a drawing, what documentation a player must present to verify eligibility to win, and the terms of payment of prizes. Some states also create an independent lottery board to oversee the operation.

State lotteries are the largest source of gambling in the United States. They generate large revenues and are a major source of state government funds. Many states apply lottery revenues for a wide range of purposes, including public K-12 education and other general state programs, such as the elderly rent rebates in Pennsylvania or the support of arts programs in Maryland and Washington. Other states, such as Louisiana, print a toll-free gambler’s assistance hotline on all tickets and have other provisions to help problem gamblers.

In addition, there are a number of states that limit lottery advertising to low-income areas and target advertising to specific income groups. This practice has raised concerns that state lotteries may be exploiting the poor, as well as promoting the notion that gambling is “good for you,” an idea that carries particular appeal in times of economic stress, when people seek an easy way to avoid tax increases or budget cuts.