Lottery is a form of gambling in which participants purchase tickets and a drawing is held for certain prizes. Prizes may include cash, merchandise, or services. Lottery is a common method of raising money for public charitable causes. It is also used in decision-making situations where the outcomes are based on chance, such as the draft of sports teams or allocation of scarce medical treatments.
The practice of distributing property or other valuables by lot dates from ancient times. The Old Testament instructed Moses to distribute land among Israel by lottery (Numbers 26:55-55), and Roman emperors gave away land and slaves as part of Saturnalian feasts and other entertainments. Lottery was a popular pastime during the Renaissance, with cities competing to organize and conduct them. Francis I of France introduced the first French lotteries in the early 1600s, which became extremely popular.
During the American Civil War, state legislatures passed laws making it legal to hold a lottery to raise funds for war purposes. The first state-sanctioned national lottery was operated by Massachusetts in 1858, and the game quickly spread throughout the country. Today, most states offer a lottery to raise money for a variety of causes, including education.
Lottery proceeds are distributed to schools in accordance with a formula based on Average Daily Attendance for K-12, community colleges, and specialized institutions and full-time enrollment for higher education. See the quarterly PDF reports linked below to learn more.