Lottery is a form of gambling where people purchase numbered tickets. A drawing is then held to determine the winner(s). The game is based on chance and fate. In the United States, most states and Washington DC have state-run lottery games. People spend more than $100 billion on lottery tickets every year. States promote their lottery games by saying they are a great way to raise revenue for schools, roads and so on. People hear this message and think that buying a ticket is not just an expensive gamble but also a kind of civic duty.
In colonial America, Benjamin Franklin organized a lottery to purchase cannons for the defense of Philadelphia, and George Washington ran a slave lottery. Throughout history, lottery prizes have included everything from land and goods to livestock and slaves. Lotteries were also a major source of financing for private and public projects in colonial America, including canals, roads, bridges, libraries, universities, churches, colleges, and towns.
The term “lottery” comes from the ancient practice of casting lots to distribute property or services, or even life itself. The earliest known evidence of a lottery is keno slips from the Han dynasty, between 205 and 187 BC. A modern lottery is an official competition to award a prize, often money or goods, by means of a random selection process or the drawing of tokens. It is usually regulated by law. A prize may be a fixed amount of cash or goods, or it may be a percentage of the total receipts.