What is the Lottery?


The lottery is a game in which numbers are drawn for prizes, either by a machine or by people using their own hands. Most lotteries are conducted by governments and offer a variety of games. Prizes may be cash or goods, services, or even real estate. The lottery is popular in many countries around the world. In the United States, for example, people spend more than $80 billion on lotteries every year – that’s over $600 per household. The lottery is also one of the most popular forms of gambling.

In the story, Lottery Day takes place in a small country village. On that day, the head of each family draws a folded slip of paper from a box. Only one of the slips is marked with a black spot. If that slip is drawn, the family must draw again for another slip. There is banter among the villagers, but no one seems very happy.

Nevertheless, when the state of New Hampshire introduced a lottery in 1964, inspired by the success of California’s Proposition 13, states across America followed suit, and lotteries became a major part of American public life. Their evolution has been remarkably similar: a state legislates a monopoly for itself; establishes a government agency or public corporation to run the lottery (as opposed to licensing a private firm in return for a share of the profits); begins operations with a modest number of relatively simple games; and, under constant pressure from consumers seeking additional revenues, progressively expands the operation by adding new games.