The official lottery provides fun, convenience and information to players on the go.

Lottery players across the United States are spending billions of dollars each year to play their favorite games. While a growing number of people are playing online, an increasing proportion of lottery sales still take place in brick-and-mortar retail outlets.

The history of the lottery dates back to early medieval Europe, where it was used by towns to raise money to pay for defenses or to provide charity. It then spread to America, where it was common in the first few decades of the nation’s settlement.

As state budget crises mounted in the nineteen-fifties, legislators faced the dilemma of either raising taxes or cutting services. For many, the lottery seemed a perfect solution: it would bring in revenue without making voters uncomfortable, and it could be taxed at a lower rate than other revenue services.

It also offered a way to make money off of an old, established activity. It was not a novel idea; the first European lottery, chartered by Queen Elizabeth I in 1567, was intended to help rebuild town fortifications and provide charity to the poor.

Today, the lottery is a huge source of revenue for states and a growing part of the national economy. It’s estimated that, in 2019, the United States sold over $91 billion worth of tickets.

But lottery commissions are not above promoting a dangerous form of gambling and exploiting the psychology of addiction. They use slick ad campaigns, aggressive marketing, and math designed to keep players coming back for more. And they target communities that are most vulnerable to the hazards of gambling, a new investigation by the Howard Center finds.