A lottery is a procedure for distributing something (usually money or prizes) by lot, or by chance. In most cases, it involves selling tickets for chances to win. Those who purchase the tickets are known as participants.
The first recorded lotteries to offer money as a prize were held in the Low Countries of Europe in the 15th century, to raise funds for fortifications and help the poor. Among the towns that held public lotteries were Ghent, Utrecht, and Bruges.
In modern times, most governments hold public lotteries. States and municipalities often choose to use the revenue for purposes such as education, park services, or funds for veterans and seniors.
People from all walks of life, including the wealthy, play lottery games. In the United States, for example, players bought more than $107.9 billion in lottery products in fiscal year 2022.
Most states also require players to pay state income taxes on the winnings. In some jurisdictions, the proceeds from the lottery are used to lower property taxes.
Some people may not want to play a lottery because they believe it is a form of gambling. Others argue that it preys on the desperation of those who have been failed by a system that has given them few real opportunities for economic mobility.