Lottery is a way for governments to raise money by selling tickets with numbers on them. Those who have the winning numbers get a prize, usually cash. Lotteries have been around for a long time, the first ones appearing in Europe in the 15th century.

Modern state-sponsored lotteries are a form of gambling, but there are also non-gambling uses for lottery draws such as those used to select military conscripts, commercial promotions in which property or prizes are given away through a random procedure, and the selection of jury members from lists of registered voters. Unlike most forms of gambling, where a consideration (property or money) must be paid for a chance to win, the purely random draw in a lottery ensures that every ticket will be awarded at least one prize.

Most state lotteries are administered by a special division of their government and are delegated the responsibility for selecting and training retailers, establishing a network of vendors, paying high-tier prizes, and ensuring that both retailers and players comply with lottery laws and rules. Depending on the laws of the particular state, lottery winners can choose to receive their prize as a lump sum or as annuity payments. The choice is not without consequence, since annuities are generally taxed at a lower rate than lump-sum payments. Nevertheless, the sliver of hope that some will be lucky enough to win the jackpot is a powerful force in keeping people buying tickets.