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Lotteries are a good source of revenue for states. However, they are also highly regressive. The biggest winners are lower-income, less educated, and nonwhite. Scratch-off games account for 60 to 65 percent of lottery sales.

Many people play the lottery because they like to gamble. Others do it because they believe that a win will give them a new life. Cresset Capital advises lottery winners to seek input from a financial adviser before they decide whether to take an annuity or lump sum payment.


Lotteries have long been a popular way for governments to raise money. They were common in the Roman Empire (Nero was a fan), and they are mentioned throughout the Bible. They also appeared in the American colonies, where they were used to fund infrastructure projects and even some of the earliest colleges, including Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. These early lottery games looked more like raffles and were based on the concept of fate.

But Cohen points out that lottery policy is often a case of fragmented decisions made on an incremental basis, with very little overall oversight. As a result, state officials end up inheriting policies and dependencies on a source of revenue that they cannot control. And they can find themselves facing a difficult situation when those revenues start to fall.


Lottery formats exist to distribute a fixed prize fund, such as cash or goods. Prize funds can also be a percentage of ticket sales. Some modern lotteries also allow players to select their own numbers and combinations. This format is sometimes referred to as keno.

Lotteries are designed to be fair, but players do not always choose all possible combinations with equal probability. In fact, some players choose combinations that are more likely to win, skewing the outcome of the lottery (see The UK National Lottery – a guide for beginners in issue 29 of Plus).

Lottery game designers try to compensate for this by adjusting the odds and probabilities of each combination. This enables them to provide low winning chances while maximizing profits.


A lottery is a game of chance that awards prizes in the form of money or goods. It is a public event that is conducted by state and provincial governments. Prizes may be paid in a lump sum or an annuity, depending on the law of the jurisdiction. Regardless of how they are awarded, lottery prizes are taxable.

Lottery winners come from all walks of life and income levels. Many people choose to play as a way to improve their financial outlook and lifestyle. Some even win multiple times in a row.

If a player wins the lottery, they can claim their prize at a customer service center. To do so, they need to present a valid government-issued ID, a completed claim form, and the winning ticket.


While winning a lottery prize is certainly life-changing, it also comes with new financial obligations. This includes a tax bite from the federal government and local governments in some states, such as New York City. It’s essential to plan carefully before deciding how to receive your winnings, including hammering out a wealth management strategy and determining your financial goals.

Lottery winnings are considered ordinary taxable income by the IRS, meaning that they are subject to state and federal taxes in the same way as earned income. In addition, there are other hidden costs associated with a large windfall that you should be aware of. For example, there is a high burden on taxpayers to prove that they had a pre-existing agreement to share the winnings before they were awarded.


In addition to promoting gambling, lotteries have become an important source of revenue for governments at the state and local levels. These funds help finance state and county services, including education. Despite these benefits, many states have not developed adequate regulations to manage the lottery and its use of public funds.

The contracts unit must ensure that the Lottery adheres to its contracting regulations and maximizes its funding for education. This requires the Lottery to conduct competitive bidding on all its procurements, and not rely on presumptions that other products will not be cost-effective.

Amending the lottery law to require that SCO perform regular audits of the Lottery’s procurement processes would increase accountability while ensuring that the Lottery adheres to its regulatory requirements. This change would also align with the Legislature’s expressed intent to encourage competition and maximize education funding.