What is a Lottery?


A lottery is a low-odds game of chance in which winners are selected by random drawing. A financial lottery, run by state or federal governments, encourages people to pay a small amount in order to be in with a chance of winning a large sum of money. It’s also a popular form of gambling.

But there’s more to lotteries than just the inextricable human impulse to gamble. They’re dangling the promise of instant riches in an era of inequality and limited social mobility. And they know that many of the people who play their games are poor, and that the very poor (the bottom quintile) spend a much higher proportion of their income on tickets.

The first recorded lotteries took place in the 15th century in the Low Countries, and were used to raise funds for town fortifications or to help the poor. In colonial America, lotteries helped to finance the foundation of many colleges and public works projects. George Washington held a lottery to raise money for cannons during the War of Independence, and Benjamin Franklin ran a series of lotteries that raised funds for libraries, churches, colleges, canals, bridges, and roads.

A successful lotto player combines knowledge of probability and proven strategies to increase his odds of success. This video explains the concept of lottery in an engaging and simple way. It is a great resource for kids & teens, and can be used in a money & personal finance class or in a K-12 curriculum.

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