What is a Lottery?


The lottery is a type of gambling in which people buy tickets with numbers on them. The government or a state lottery draws the numbers, and people with those numbers win prizes.

Depending on the type of lottery, the prize fund can be a fixed amount or a percentage of revenue. The prize fund may also be a lump sum or annuity, which is paid to a winner in installments over a period of time.

A Lottery

The word “lottery” comes from the Dutch verb lokten, meaning to draw. The word was first used in the 17th century to describe a system of chance distribution of money, often for public purposes.


The earliest known reference to the word “lottery” in the English language was in 1633. It refers to the lottery that was held in a small village on June 27th.

It was a simple scheme to distribute prizes by chance; the prizes were awarded to those who purchased numbered slips or lots that represented the prize or blanks to be drawn from a wheel on that day.

Traditionally, the prize was a lump sum or annuity. But in the 21st century, many lotteries offer periodic payments to their winners.

The New York Lottery, for example, offers annual payments to its winners. However, most winners opt for the lump sum option. In order to ensure that the funds are available for all the payments, the New York Lottery buys special U.S. Treasury bonds called STRIPS. This enables it to pay all the winners in one go, rather than having to make annual payments over time.