The lottery is a form of gambling wherein the winners are awarded prizes based on a random drawing. The prizes can be money, goods or services, or a combination of these. While people often think of the lottery as a game of chance, it is in fact a highly complicated system that relies on many factors for its success.

Lottery is a popular source of state revenue, and its popularity has grown in recent years. Its broad public support is especially strong in times of economic stress when states might face tax increases or cutbacks to other public programs. Nevertheless, the objective fiscal circumstances of states do not seem to have much bearing on whether or when they adopt lotteries.

In colonial-era America, lottery tickets were sold in order to raise funds for a variety of purposes, including building schools and colleges. Benjamin Franklin organized a lottery to buy cannons for the defense of Philadelphia, and George Washington sponsored one in 1768 to build a road over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Lottery proceeds are earmarked differently by each state, and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries publishes data about how each state distributes its revenue. In most cases, about half of the total prize pool is divvied up between various administrative costs and vendor fees, and the rest is allocated toward whatever projects the state legislature decides to fund. Click or tap a county on the map to see how lottery funding has been distributed to local education institutions.