Official lottery is a form of gambling in which tickets are sold for a chance to win a prize. The prizes may be money, goods, or services. The lottery is a popular way to raise funds for state governments. In the United States, the government runs a number of lotteries, including the Powerball, Mega Millions, and other large jackpot games. Smaller local lotteries are also available in many areas.

The first known lottery was held during the Roman Empire. It was a form of entertainment during dinner parties, where guests would be given a ticket that they could scratch off to see if they won a prize. Often, the prizes were fancy items like dinnerware.

Lotteries became widespread in the 20th century, mainly in the Northeast where states were able to expand their social safety nets without having onerous taxes on the middle class and working class. It was also a belief that people are going to gamble, so the states might as well make some of it themselves.

The first step in playing an official lottery is buying a ticket from a retailer. Then you wait for the official drawing, which happens at a set time and place. You can find out the date and time of the next drawing by asking a lottery clerk at your preferred retailer or checking the lottery’s official website. The results of the official drawing will then be announced. You can usually find this information on the lottery’s website or, for smaller lotteries, on public access television.