Lottery Retailers


A lottery is a game of chance in which participants pay a small amount of money for the chance to win a large prize, usually cash. Lotteries are legal in most states and are a popular way to raise funds for public projects. They are also a source of revenue for government operations and may be used to support public services, including education, law enforcement and health care. Lotteries can also provide income for individuals who are disabled or otherwise unable to work. However, the odds of winning are very low, and playing for the big jackpot can be a financial mistake.

According to the NASPL Web site, about 186,000 retailers sell state-sponsored lottery tickets. Retailers include convenience stores, supermarkets, discount outlets, gas stations, nonprofit organizations such as churches and fraternal groups, restaurants and bars, bowling alleys and newsstands. Some state lottery departments use special websites for retailer merchandising and advertising purposes and offer other incentives to keep ticket sales high. For example, in 2001 the New Jersey lottery launched an Internet site just for its retailers, which allows them to read about upcoming games and ask questions online of lottery personnel.

The earliest recorded lottery events with prizes in the form of money took place in the Low Countries in the 15th century. They were originally intended to raise funds for town fortifications and help the poor. The word “lottery” probably derives from Middle Dutch loterie, a calque on Old Dutch löte, meaning “to draw lots.”

In the United States, lottery games are operated by federally chartered state corporations, with each state having its own independent state-licensed lottery. These companies collect and remit lottery proceeds to the respective state, and in return for their licenses, they must comply with strict regulatory guidelines, which prohibit them from offering other gambling games or accepting credit cards as payment. They also must adhere to the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines on advertising.

Lottery is not without its critics, who argue that it promotes compulsive gambling and has a regressive impact on lower-income populations. These criticisms, however, tend to focus on the individual lottery’s specific operations and are not a reflection of its general desirability. This is because, in the case of most state lotteries, policy decisions are made piecemeal and incrementally, and public welfare concerns are taken into consideration only intermittently.

The modern lottery is a classic example of public policy developed by exigency rather than any kind of long-term vision or philosophy. In the nineteen-sixties, a growing awareness of all the potential money in the gambling business collided with a fiscal crisis for many state governments. With a population rapidly expanding and inflation rising, it became increasingly difficult to balance budgets without raising taxes or cutting public services, both of which were extremely unpopular with voters. In response, twelve states established lotteries in the decade that followed, creating a lucrative industry whose growth accelerated as America’s moral climate changed to one defined by an increasing aversion to taxation.

Posted in: Gambling