The official lottery is the procedure for distributing prizes (usually money or property) among people who pay for chances to win. The prize money may be distributed randomly or according to a specific pattern such as a drawing of numbers or symbols. The term is derived from the Italian noun lotto, meaning “falling of the dice” or “fate.” Lottery games have existed in one form or another for centuries. Examples include military conscription, commercial promotions in which property is given away by a random procedure, and the selection of jury members. Modern state lotteries are government-sponsored gambling, and are considered a form of taxation.

The first recorded public lotteries, in which tickets were sold for a chance to win a prize, were held in the Low Countries during the 15th century. They were used to raise funds for town fortifications and help the poor.

New York’s official state lottery, which was inaugurated in 1967, raised millions of dollars for education from the very beginning. However, it also created inequities by disproportionately benefiting middle- and upper-class families who live far from the neighborhoods where the lotteries were sold.

Download the free official lottery app to get fun, convenience and information on your mobile device. You can track your winnings, check results and purchase tickets from retailers near you. You can also receive jackpot alerts, play reminders and other exclusive lottery-related notifications.