The New York State Gaming Commission has a responsibility to protect the integrity of lottery games and their associated prize payouts. Therefore, any information printed on a Lotto, Cash4Life, Mega Millions or Powerball ticket is final and cannot be changed or corrected after purchase. All tickets are bearer instruments and must be presented for claim at the official lottery drawing.

Lotteries became a popular feature of American life in the 1740s and helped finance European settlement of America, despite Protestant proscriptions against gambling. By the 1830s, however, widespread concerns about crookedness and fraud sank the era of state-sponsored lotteries. By 1860, all states except Delaware and Missouri banned them. The only remaining legal lottery, the Louisiana State Lottery Company, operated a game that functioned like a national lottery by sending advertisements and offering prizes to people across the country. But federal legislation finally put an end to the operation, after a scandalous bribery investigation.

The modern era of the official lottery began in the nineteen-sixties, when growing awareness of the potential money to be made in numbers games collided with a crisis in state funding. For many states that provided a generous social safety net, balancing budgets grew increasingly difficult without raising taxes or cutting services—both options unpopular with voters.

During this era, promotional campaigns wildly inflated the impact of lottery revenue on state finances. The claim was often that a lottery would float a single line item, invariably education but sometimes elder care or public parks, and thereby allow politicians to maintain cherished services without being punished at the polls. As a result, voters seemed to buy the idea that buying a lottery ticket was a civic duty.