The Official Lottery – Is it a Good Idea for Governments to Promote the Lottery?

Official Lottery is a game where you spend a small sum of money for the chance to win a large prize. The prize is based on the numbers drawn at random from a pool of potential winning combinations. If you get all the winning numbers, you win the jackpot. Most lotteries also include smaller prizes for getting some combination of winning numbers.

Lottery games are a popular form of gambling around the world and an important source of revenue for many states, especially those with limited tax revenues. In 2021 alone, people in the US spent more than $100 billion on tickets. But how much is really going to the state, and does it make sense for governments to promote them?

In the past, lottery commissions promoted the message that it’s a fun experience to buy a ticket and scratch it. But that doesn’t address how much the games are actually regressive or how often people end up losing more than they win. It also obscures how much is being diverted from other needs, such as public education.

The official lottery is run as a business by state governments, and the commissions have every incentive to tell voters that it’s doing a good job. That’s why they rely on two messages primarily: Super-sized jackpots, which not only drive sales but also earn them a windfall of free publicity on news sites and broadcasts; and making it harder to win.