A lottery is a game of chance in which participants pay a small amount to participate in a random drawing for prizes. The games are often administered by state or federal governments and have many different uses, including sports team drafts and the allocation of scarce medical treatment. A common form of lottery is a scratch card, which involves paying a small sum to see if your numbers match those randomly selected by a machine.

Lotteries are popular forms of gambling that offer a low risk-to-reward ratio, and they can also be a source of public revenue. However, they are often perceived as hidden taxes because they eat into government receipts that could otherwise be used to fund other public services and programs. This is especially true in states that have large social safety nets and that are struggling to meet rising costs.

During the post-World War II period, lottery money was hailed as a way for state governments to expand their public offerings without onerous tax increases on middle and working class families. But this arrangement has now come to an end, and we need to figure out how state governments should raise the revenue they need in the future.