Official lottery is a form of gambling in which tickets are purchased for a chance to win a prize. A prize may be money or something else, such as property, a vacation, or a car. In the United States, state-controlled lotteries are legal, and regulations regarding purchase, chance, and prize are strictly enforced.
In the late twentieth century, many states were desperate for revenue solutions that would not enrage voters averse to taxes. Politicians hoped that lotteries could float their budgets and relieve them of the need to raise taxes. But, as Cohen argues, the money raised by lotteries isn’t nearly enough to make up for the loss of other sources of revenue. And, as with all commercial products, lottery sales are sensitive to economic fluctuations; they increase when incomes fall and unemployment rises. In addition, as with all commercial products, lottery promotion is disproportionately concentrated in neighborhoods that are disproportionately poor, black, or Latino.
Despite the negative impact of the lottery on some segments of the population, it is still an important source of state revenue. However, it is imperative to remember that lottery play is a form of gambling and players must be responsible in their use of the product. If gambling becomes a problem, contact 2-1-1 or GamblerND in North Dakota, or contact Gamblers Anonymous.