Official lottery websites are the safest way to buy tickets and claim prizes. They are authorised by the state and are verified by geolocation software. A lottery provider will only sell tickets to players who are registered and residing in the jurisdiction. If you purchase tickets from an online lottery provider, you will be automatically entered into a user account. The provider will check your identity and record your prize winnings.

In the Low Countries, lotteries first began in the 15th century, when various towns held public lotteries to raise money for the poor and to improve the town’s fortifications. These early lotteries were a popular way to raise money and were widely hailed as a painless method of taxation. Today, the oldest lottery in the world is the Staatsloterij in the Netherlands, which began in 1726. The English word lottery comes from the Dutch noun, “lot”, meaning “fate.”

The official lottery in North Carolina was introduced in 2005 and is called the North Carolina Education Lottery. Proceeds from the lottery fund go towards educational programs. It has generated more than $5 billion for educational programs since it was first launched. It features three multi-state and three in-house games, and is broadcast live on six television stations.

Winnings are paid out in a lump sum or an annuity. The one-time payment is usually less than the advertised jackpot, which is reduced when the time value of money and income taxes are applied. Withholdings vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the average lump-sum winner will pocket approximately 1/3 of the advertised jackpot.