The official lottery is a state-run game that offers players the opportunity to win cash or goods in exchange for a dollar spent. States often offer more money than they pay out, and the resulting profits are used to support public programs and services.

While many people enjoy the thrill of winning, others develop compulsive gambling. Those who become addicted can have problems with family, work and school. Some states run hotlines for addicts, but it is a hard problem to overcome. Some addicts turn to illegal gambling, and that poses an additional risk to society.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as America’s banking and taxation systems were developing, states needed quick ways to raise money for projects such as roads, jails and schools. Lotteries became a popular way to do that, and famous American leaders such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin endorsed them.

The word “lottery” has its origins in Middle Dutch loterie, which is probably a calque on Middle French loterie (loterie being the name for a drawing). It is also possible that it is derived from Old English lyttr, meaning “fall of a coin.”

The term has since been extended to any event or action whose outcome depends on chance, especially the distribution of prizes. The modern state-run lottery is regulated by statute, with a lottery director and a lottery board overseeing the agency. These officials are accountable to the legislature, and the rules specify details such as how long winners have to claim their prizes after the drawing, what documentation winners must present and how a prize will be awarded.