Official lottery is a form of gambling wherein participants choose numbers or symbols at random for the chance to win a prize. It is sometimes regulated by the government. Generally, tickets are sold to persons who are at least 18 years old. The prize may be cash or goods, or a combination of both. Some governments outlaw lotteries, while others endorse them and organize state-wide or national lottery games. In addition, private lotteries are common.

The first recorded lotteries to offer prizes in the form of money were held in the Low Countries in the 15th century to raise funds for town walls and other fortifications, as well as help the poor. Other prizes were given away in the form of land and slaves. The prize fund is often a fixed percentage of total receipts, which allows the organizer to avoid the risk of not meeting its goal if not enough tickets are sold.

In the United States, a lottery is a type of game of chance that is conducted by the federal and state governments, and many localities also conduct lotteries. Most lottery games are based on a prize draw where the winning numbers or symbols are selected at random. In addition, some games have a skill component.

The New York State Gaming Commission is required to report and withhold taxes on all lottery winnings in accordance with the regulations of federal and New York State law. Winnings are paid in the form of a lump sum or annuity. The annuity option is a smaller amount than the advertised jackpot, due to the time value of money and because of income tax withholdings.