Lottery is a type of gambling game in which prizes are awarded by chance. Prizes vary widely in size and value, from a small cash prize to a multi-million dollar jackpot. Lottery games are also popular with public and private organizations for fundraising, such as building or repairing roads and bridges, schools and libraries, and military or sporting events. A lottery is usually regulated by law.
The word lottery derives from the Dutch noun “lot” and Middle French “loterie,” meaning drawing lots or selecting winners by lot. The first recorded use of the term was in 1669, when a printed advertisement referred to a “loterie d’or”, or “golden lottery.”
A primary element in all lotteries is a pool of tickets with numbers or symbols on them, from which winning numbers are drawn at random by a mechanism. This may be a physical process such as shaking or tossing, or a computer program. In either case, the pool or collection must be thoroughly mixed before the winning selection is made.
Generally, the prize money for a lottery is a percentage of the total value of tickets sold. The rest of the money is usually earmarked for expenses such as promotional costs and taxes, and some goes to the promoter as profits. Large prizes draw more ticket sales and earn the lottery publicity, but they must be balanced against the desire for a high frequency of smaller prizes.