The official lottery is a game run by governments that raises money to fund public projects. Government-run lotteries exist in most countries and are operated by state or provincial governments. They sell tickets to raise funds for a variety of projects, including schools, roads, health care and social welfare programs.

Lottery games are played by people of all ages and income levels. In 2022, players spent $107.9 billion on tickets in the United States. The prizes for winning a lottery game vary. Some are cash, others are goods such as vehicles or electronics. Most prize money is awarded through a drawing held by the lottery operator. Drawings are often broadcast on local TV, but can also be viewed online.

In the immediate post-World War II period, lotteries seemed to be a way for governments to expand their services without raising taxes on the working and middle classes. But the economy eventually stalled, and lottery revenues began to decline.

There is no national lottery in the US, but some states and provinces participate in joint games. These games, like Powerball and Mega Millions, offer jackpots of millions of dollars. People who wish to play a lottery must travel to a state or province where it is legal to purchase a ticket. Generally, lottery employees are not allowed to play the game because officials believe that their impartiality would be compromised. Retailers and suppliers may also be banned from playing the lottery.