Lottery is a game of chance in which multiple people buy tickets for a small price and have the chance to win a large prize. Lotteries are usually run by state or federal governments and can be used as a tool to promote educational programs. They are often associated with gambling but can also be used to fund other activities such as road projects or public services.
The word lottery may come from the Middle Dutch Lotterie, or from the Latin luctare “drawing lots”. The first recorded European lotteries in the modern sense appeared in the Low Countries in the 15th century, with towns raising money to build fortifications and help the poor. Francis I of France permitted lotteries to be conducted for private and public profit in several cities between 1520 and 1539.
In the United States, state governments enact laws governing how and when lotteries can be held and what prizes are offered. They are typically regulated by a lottery board or commission, which selects and licenses retailers, trains employees of retailers to operate lottery terminals, sell and redeem tickets, pay high-tier prizes, and ensure that players and retail outlets comply with state law. Licensed lotteries are authorized to collect fees from players and sell tickets, and they may receive funds from the sale of tickets for charitable and noncommercial purposes. In colonial America, lotteries were a major source of funding for both private and public ventures, including roads, libraries, churches, colleges, canals, bridges, and military fortifications.