The Official Lottery Website

Lottery, or the act of buying a ticket for a chance to win a prize, has a long history. The first known records of lotteries are keno slips from the Chinese Han dynasty (2nd millennium BC). Benjamin Franklin organized a lottery in 1737 to buy cannons for Philadelphia, and George Washington ran a slave lottery in Virginia in 1769. These early lottery tickets became collectors’ items.

After you buy a ticket, you have to wait for the official drawing, in which a set of winning numbers is chosen at random. Different lotteries have different drawing dates, and you can find out when your lottery holds its next drawing by asking the clerk at your preferred retailer or checking the official lottery website. Some lotteries allow you to pay for more than one draw at a time — this is called an advance purchase.

When you play the lottery, you have to know that you’re probably going to lose. Most people who play the lottery buy just a single ticket each year, and that’s all they’re going to spend in their entire lives on it. But some people are committed gamblers who spend a significant share of their incomes on tickets. And that’s the group lottery commissions are trying to reach with their advertising.

In the US, state governments started lotteries in the immediate post-World War II period because they were looking to expand their social safety nets without imposing onerous taxes on lower-income families and workers. The belief behind this was that people are going to gamble anyway, so the state might as well take advantage of it.