How Governments Promote Lottery

Lottery is an arrangement where prizes, which might be money or goods, are allocated by a process that depends entirely on chance. As such, it cannot reasonably be expected to prevent a significant proportion of people who wish to participate in the arrangement from doing so. It is for this reason that lottery games are class A gambling activities.

Governments at all levels often run lotteries. They do so primarily to raise money for various purposes without the burden of imposing onerous taxes on those who may not be able or willing to pay them. The immediate post-World War II period was particularly suited to this purpose, with states expanding their array of services while relying on “painless” lottery revenues.

But lotteries are also run as businesses, and that necessarily means maximizing the amount of money they can generate through ticket sales. To do that, they must promote the game in ways that entice people to spend large sums on tickets.

The most effective way of doing that has been to offer super-sized jackpots, which attract attention and increase ticket sales. Super-sized jackpots can even generate free publicity for the game when they become newsworthy, attracting further ticket sales.

Lottery commissions also push the message that the money that the state makes is being put toward a good cause, such as education or something else. That’s fine, but it obscures the regressive nature of the money and obscures how much people are spending on tickets.