Public Support for Lotteries


The lottery is a type of gambling game in which a person stakes money or property on the outcome of a draw. The winning prize is usually a sum of money. The game’s rules and procedures are set by the lottery organization.

In the United States, state governments use the proceeds from lottery games to finance public projects. These can include schools, colleges, libraries, and highways.

Lottery revenues typically expand when the lottery is first introduced, then level off and begin to decline as players become bored with the games.

Public Support for Lotteries

Most people play the lottery because they believe that it is a good way to win large amounts of money. This belief is a popular stance among the general population, as well as specific constituencies within the lottery industry (convenience store operators, lottery suppliers, etc.).

There is no evidence that lottery revenue has any impact on a state’s overall fiscal health, however. As Clotfelter and Cook point out, “the popularity of state lotteries is not influenced by objective fiscal conditions in the states in which they are enacted.”

Some research has found that the majority of people who play the lottery live in middle-income neighborhoods. This is despite the fact that many lottery advertisers target poor, low-income communities to increase participation in the lottery and generate revenues.

In the United States, most lottery games take 24 percent of the winnings for federal taxes. The remaining amount is taxed at the state and local levels, which can significantly reduce the size of any winnings.