Lottery is a form of gambling in which numbers are drawn to determine the winner of a prize. The history of lottery-type games in human society spans millennia, and modern lotteries are used for military conscription, commercial promotions in which property is given away by a random procedure, and the selection of members of a jury from lists of registered voters. The term lottery is also applied to other activities that involve the distribution of goods or services that must be obtained for a consideration (money, property, work) and for which there is a limited supply. These include auctions and sales that are conducted in exchange for a service or product, such as an airline ticket or an automobile.

Lotteries have enjoyed broad public support for over 40 years, and they are one of the fastest-growing forms of state government revenue. In the first few years of operation, most states legislate a monopoly for themselves; establish a state agency or public corporation to run the lottery; begin with a small number of relatively simple games; and, under constant pressure for additional revenues, progressively expand the lottery’s size and complexity.

Lottery critics have asserted that, regardless of their popularity, they contribute to addictive gambling behavior and are a major regressive tax on lower-income communities. Furthermore, they point to research showing that the lottery is a significant source of funding for illegal gambling and other abuses. These critics are adamant that lottery proceeds should be diverted from the prize pool to address these problems.