What is a Lottery?



A lottery is a process for distributing money or other prizes among a group of people. In most cases, it is a form of gambling in which many people purchase chance tickets that will be drawn from a pool.

Regardless of whether the prize is monetary or non-monetary, there are two common elements in all lotteries: (1) a mechanism for recording the identities and stakes of bettors, and (2) a drawing procedure for determining the winning numbers or symbols. The latter procedure, sometimes known as “randomizing,” is designed to ensure that the selection of winners is completely based on chance and that no factors other than chance should influence the outcome.

The first element is a method for recording the names and stakes of bettors, usually by means of numbered receipts, and then of storing them with the lottery organization until they are needed in the selection of winners. This may be done by printing tickets in retail stores and mail, or by computer systems.

Another element is a mechanism for collecting and pooling the stakes placed by bettors, usually through a hierarchy of sales agents who pass the money paid for the tickets up through the organization until it becomes “banked.” The amount of money held in this bank is the fund from which winners are paid.

There are two basic types of lottery games: daily numbers and fixed-payout games. In daily numbers, a player chooses from a variety of combinations, ranging from three to five digits. In fixed-payout games, a player chooses from a fixed number of combinations, ranging from four to nine digits.