Lottery is a form of gambling in which people buy numbered tickets for a chance to win a prize. The prize can be anything from cash to jewelry or a new car. The word is from the Italian lotteria, which means “lottery” or “portion.” In the United States, the term lottery is also used to refer to an auction or game of chance in which a number is drawn to determine the winner. Lotteries are regulated by state laws, and Federal statutes prohibit the mailing or transportation in interstate or foreign commerce of promotional materials for lotteries.
In modern times, lotteries are usually organized by governments to raise money for some public purpose. They may be used to reward soldiers, give away property, or select jurors. In the United States, most states offer multiple games. Some are instant-win scratch-off games; others have a fixed prize amount for winning numbers or combinations of numbers. In some cases, the state’s general fund provides a prize amount, and other times a lottery organizer will set up a separate prize fund from the ticket sales income. In either case, the prize amount must be larger than the cost of tickets in order for a lottery to qualify as gambling. The prizes can be awarded by random selection or by drawing. In some cases, the prizes are awarded to individuals, but in others, the winners are chosen by groups of people, such as schools or employers.