Lottery is a form of gambling in which a random drawing determines winners. It has a long history, including several instances in the Bible and the ancient practice of casting lots to distribute property or slaves. In modern times, it has become a popular means for state governments to raise money and to reward their constituents with cash prizes.

Lotteries typically begin with a fairly modest number of relatively simple games. Revenues expand dramatically at first, but then plateau or even decline, prompting the introduction of new games to maintain or increase revenues. Many states also use the lottery to promote themselves. They advertise in convenience stores, on radio and TV, and by placing billboards. They recruit prominent politicians to speak on their behalf, and they cultivate special constituencies like convenience store owners (lotteries are big business for them); lottery suppliers (heavy contributions by these companies to state political campaigns are reported); teachers (in states where lottery revenues are earmarked for education) and state legislators (who become accustomed to the extra revenue).

The basic reason people play is that they like to win. Super-sized jackpots draw attention and spur ticket sales. They also attract the attention of the media, which promotes the game with stories about the upcoming drawings and their record-setting amounts. And they appeal to a certain insecurity, a desire for instant riches in an age of inequality and limited social mobility.

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