The official lottery is a state-regulated game in which numbers are drawn for prizes. It is a popular source of revenue for states. Each state has its own laws governing the operation of lotteries; how they are distributed; and time limits for claiming prizes.

If you receive a message from a person or organisation claiming to be part of the official lottery, do not call them or respond. It is almost always a scam. Fraudsters will usually ask you to pay various fees – taxes, legal fees, banking fees etc – in order to get the prize money. You may also be asked to provide personal information, including your address and a copy of your ID document. This information can be used to steal your identity or to commit fraud. If you are contacted by a lottery company or organisation and they use a phone number beginning with 190, this is a premium rate telephone service. It is best to look up the contact details of the lottery or organisation on an independent website before responding to a phone message.

Lotteries are a huge business, with people spending billions each year on tickets. But they do have a dark side – they can create addictions to gambling and are an especially significant burden on low-income and minority groups. Despite this, lotteries are still going strong and have been around for over 150 years. They are based on a flawed argument that states need to raise revenue and that gambling is inevitable, so they might as well offer it and capture the gamblers.