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The Public Interest and the Lottery


The lottery is a way for state governments to raise money for public services. The prizes can be cash or goods, and people buy tickets for a chance to win. Some of the money goes to charities and schools. The rest is used by the state for other purposes. The lottery is popular because people like the idea of winning money. It can also help them avoid taxes or avoid paying higher rents or other costs.

The word lottery comes from the Dutch noun lot, which means “fate.” The game was first organized in the 17th century, when it was a common way to raise funds for everything from public works projects to education. In fact, many of the early college buildings in the United States were paid for by lottery money. But there are also serious concerns about the way that the state lottery promotes gambling and can lead to problems for problem gamblers, poor people, and other groups.

The lottery is a classic example of a policy that is made piecemeal, without a broad overview and with the power to allocate resources distributed among many different departments and agencies. The result is that the lottery operates at cross-purposes with other policies and with the general public interest. It’s a policy that could be improved by a comprehensive approach to public welfare and gambling that combines public health and public safety, consumer protection, and financial regulation. 2017 NerdWallet. All rights reserved. Terms of Use.