A lottery is a game in which prizes, usually money, are awarded to players who purchase tickets. The winners are selected through a random drawing or a similar method. The game is often regulated by law to ensure fairness and honesty. People also use lotteries to raise funds for public purposes. These lotteries can be organized by individuals, companies, or states. They can also be conducted online.

Typically, the total value of the prizes is lower than that of the money paid for a ticket. This is because the profits for the promoter and other expenses, such as promotional costs and taxes, are deducted from the pool before awarding the prizes. In some cases, the prize amount is predetermined and based on the number of tickets sold.

Lottery has a long history and is found worldwide. In Europe, early records of lotteries with tickets and prizes for money or goods can be traced back to the 15th century. Various towns held lotteries to raise money for town fortifications and to help the poor. These were popular forms of raising money during the 17th century and 18th century.

In the United States, state governments regulate most lotteries. Each lottery has a dedicated division to select retailers and their employees, train them to sell and redeem tickets and train their employees in promoting the games, pay high-tier prizes, and assist in compliance with state laws and regulations. Lottery proceeds also support state education programs and state health services, among other uses.