The first official lotteries with money prizes appeared in the Low Countries during the 15th century. Towns held public lotteries to raise money for the poor and for fortifications. Some states viewed lotteries as civic duties and founded churches and universities with the proceeds. A 1445 record in L’Ecluse, Belgium, mentions a lottery where 4304 tickets were sold for 1737 florins, which is equivalent to about US$170,000 in 2014.
There are also offshore lottery providers that claim to sell lottery tickets, but instead send you to an unofficial retailer. Whether these providers are legal or not is debatable, but the official lottery’s position is that you should only play through the official lottery in your state. In addition, there are a growing number of official lottery couriers.
Most states offer more than one lottery game. A subscription to a lottery website allows you to automatically purchase tickets, which means you won’t have to remember to buy a ticket each time you want to play. These subscriptions can be set up to purchase tickets for weeks, months, or a year. Subscriptions will allow you to pick your numbers ahead of time, and the lottery will automatically check your tickets for winners. If you win, you’ll receive a check if you win less than $600, and a form to claim your prize.
A lottery winner must claim their prize using the official claim form. Often, a lottery agent will use this form to process claims, which are necessary to ensure the proper payout of prizes. In some cases, the winnings are not paid in a lump sum, but are paid over time. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may be able to claim a prize without having to pay any taxes.