The Official Lottery

The official lottery is responsible for administering, regulating, and promoting the state’s lottery. It encourages responsible play and recommends players not spend more than they can afford to win a prize. If gambling becomes a problem, help is available at 2-1-1 or GamblerND in North Dakota or Lottery Anonymous elsewhere.

New York state’s lottery offers a variety of games including the traditional three-digit numbers game, a four-digit game, keno, and instant tickets (also known as scratch-off tickets). It is governed by the Gaming Control Act and operates under the supervision of the Department of Finance. In addition to raising revenue for the state, NY’s lottery also supports public education and other social programs.

In the 18th century, philosophers such as Voltaire and bishops complained that lotteries exploited the poor and they were frowned upon by idealists during the French Revolution. However, lottery games reappeared after the revolution as a “public lottery for the city of Paris” and private ones for religious orders.

State politicians facing deficits in the early 20th century were captivated by a promise: lotteries could fill government coffers without raising taxes and, thus, would relieve them of the unpleasant prospect of having to raise state fees on ordinary citizens. But evidence quickly put a stop to this fantasy. Lottery proceeds ended up being a drop in the bucket for actual state governments, Cohen writes, and were more heavily concentrated in neighborhoods that are disproportionately poor, black, and Latino.