Lottery – A Global Phenomenon


Lottery is a global phenomenon and has become an integral part of the gambling industry. Its enormous popularity seems to be driven by two powerful selling points: (1) the promise of winning large sums of money, and (2) its role as a source of public revenue that is not subject to taxes or other government cuts. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that lottery is gambling and, as such, can have negative consequences for poor people and problem gamblers. It also raises the question of whether running a state lottery is an appropriate function for government.

The states that currently operate a lottery generally legislate a monopoly for themselves, establish a state agency or public corporation to administer the lottery, and begin operations with a small number of relatively simple games. Then, faced with pressure to generate additional revenues, they progressively expand the lottery by adding new games.

Retailers sell lottery tickets and are compensated primarily by a commission on sales. In addition, most states have incentive-based programs that pay retailers bonuses for meeting certain sales criteria. The amount of the bonus depends on how much the retailer sold and how quickly they reached that threshold.

The percentage of people who play the lottery varies by income and other demographic factors. In general, lower-income individuals (e.g., blacks and Hispanics) play more than whites, the young play less than the middle age group, and Catholics play fewer than non-Catholics. Moreover, lower-income individuals tend to live in neighborhoods with fewer stores and gas stations, which make it harder for them to buy lottery tickets.