Public Uses of Lottery Proceeds


A lottery is a low-odds game of chance or a process in which winners are selected by a random drawing. It can be used in a number of decision-making situations, including sports team drafts and the allocation of scarce medical treatment.

Often administered by state or federal governments, lotteries are a popular form of gambling and encourage people to pay a small sum of money to be in with a chance of winning a large jackpot. While some people see lotteries as an addictive form of gambling, others use them to raise funds for the public good.

Public Approval

State lotteries are a popular means of raising revenue in states and have won widespread public support even in times of economic stress. They are also a source of controversy, attracting criticism that they lead to compulsive gambling and regressive social effects.

Advertising and Political Influence

State government uses lottery revenues to finance a wide range of public projects. These include construction of roads, libraries, colleges, bridges, canals, and other facilities.

Unlike most forms of gambling, lottery revenue is not taxed. This is a positive point for the lottery, as it reduces the burden on the general public.

Public Debate

The debate over the use of lottery proceeds has focused on the question of whether these expenditures are an appropriate function for a state government. Specifically, the debate addresses the problem of compulsive gamblers, the alleged regressive impact on lower-income groups, and other concerns related to the running of a lottery at cross-purposes with the larger public interest.