What is an Official Lottery?

Official lottery games are those organized by state and/or territorial governments. They are run independently of each other, although there is some overlap in jurisdictions. Some state lotteries offer a wide range of games, including instant tickets (also known as scratch-offs), three and four digit games, keno, video lottery terminals and a variety of other traditional games. State lotteries also support public education systems.

The first modern government-run US lottery began in Puerto Rico in 1934, followed by the New Hampshire Lottery in 1964. Instant lottery tickets were introduced in the 1970s and have become a significant component of lottery revenue. Most states now offer at least one version of a numbers game. Some offer additional games such as keno, Hot Spot and Take 5. Some offer a variety of games on a single ticket.

Lotteries are often portrayed as a good thing for states because they raise money for public services. However, this is misleading: when you look at the percentage of total state revenue that lotteries provide, they are very small.

Despite their negative impact on society, lottery games continue to attract players. They appeal to people’s inextricable desire to win. There are many ways to reduce your risk of losing money in a lottery, such as reducing the amount you spend on tickets or playing less frequently. If you have a problem with gambling, call 2-1-1 or GamblerND in North Dakota or Gamblers Anonymous in other states.