Official lottery is run by states, which have an incentive to promote it, because it is one of the very few ways they can raise money without raising taxes. Lottery ads typically push two messages: a sense of fun in the experience of buying and scratching tickets; and the big prize that a person could win. Both of these messages obscure the regressivity of the games, and the fact that they are meant for people who will spend a large share of their income on them.

The history of the lottery reveals a state’s need for revenue and a belief that gambling is inevitable, so why not capture it? But, in addition to raising a lot of money that could be used for other purposes, the lottery creates new gamblers and lures them to places where they can spend more than they can afford.

Lottery games can be addictive, and the compulsion to play is especially strong for vulnerable groups. For instance, in the early 1800s, Denmark Vesey, an enslaved person in Charleston, South Carolina, won a local lottery and used the proceeds to buy his freedom. But he was also caught and executed for planning a slave revolt. Religious and moral sensibilities helped turn the tide against gambling, which ultimately led to prohibition.

Download the official app to play the hottest lottery games on your phone, anywhere and anytime. Just remember: You should never play while crossing the street, operating a motor vehicle or using a chain saw. You should also use your phone responsibly, and only in a safe place.