What is Lottery?

Lottery is a process of awarding prizes or goods by chance. The prize may be fixed, as in the case of some modern gambling-type lotteries, or a percentage of ticket receipts, as in most public lotteries. In either case, the prize fund is usually determined by the organizers after a percentage of profits for them and expenses are deducted.

The earliest evidence of lottery is a set of keno slips from the Chinese Han Dynasty dating back to 205 and 187 BC. The word is thought to be derived from the Latin verb lotare, meaning to draw lots, or to distribute property by chance. The practice of distributing property by lottery is known in many cultures, with ancient examples including the Old Testament’s instructions to Moses to distribute land by lot and the emperors’ Saturnalian feasts during which they gave away slaves and property to their guests.

While the lottery is often seen as a form of gambling, it can be used for non-gambling purposes as well, such as military conscription, commercial promotions in which property is given away by a random procedure, and selecting members of a jury. In modern times, the lottery is also used to award prizes in public competitions such as sports events or to raise funds for charitable and government initiatives.