An official lottery is a government-sponsored game of chance in which numbers or symbols are drawn to win a prize. The games are usually operated independently by each jurisdiction, but some states form consortiums to organize larger lottery games that carry higher jackpots. While the lottery has its critics, it is an important source of revenue for many governments and has been used to fund public services, such as education and transportation.

In the United States, state lotteries are legal under federal law. These lotteries collect and pool money paid for tickets and award prizes to winners based on the number of winning entries. The prizes are often cash, goods, services, or real estate. The earliest lotteries used preprinted numbers or symbols, but in the second half of the 20th century they shifted to random selection.

The New York state lottery was officially inaugurated in 1967 after the approval of a constitutional amendment by the majority of New Yorkers. Since then more than 34 billion dollars of lottery proceeds have been devoted to educational purposes. This lottery is also renowned for its Diversity Visa Lottery (DVL) which is a congressionally-mandated program that provides a chance for 55,000 people each year to immigrate to the US with the help of a Green Card.