A competition in which numbered tickets are sold and the holders of some of them win prizes. It is a common form of public fundraising and may be conducted by state governments or private organizations. Also called lottery game, chance game, and prize draw.

The winner of a lottery is selected through a process that depends entirely on chance or luck. The choice of judges in a lawsuit is often described as a lottery.

Lottery is popular with people of all ages and income levels, but it has become especially appealing to upper-income Americans, who spend more on tickets than do lower-income Americans. A recent study by the consumer financial company Bankrate found that Americans making more than fifty thousand dollars a year spend one percent of their annual income on tickets; those earning less than thirty thousand dollars spend thirteen percent.

Many people buy lottery tickets on a regular basis, contributing billions in receipts to government coffers that they could instead be using for savings for college tuition, retirement, or investment funds. The lottery is attractive because it promises unimaginable wealth with little risk. It is a form of gambling, however, and should be treated as such. For people whose purchasing habits suggest that they have an addictive personality, it can be a problem. As the jackpots in these games grow to astronomical amounts, they earn enormous publicity and drive ticket sales. At the same time, their accumulation erodes the long-standing national promise that working hard and saving for the future would allow children to do better than their parents.