The Basics of a Lottery


A lottery is a game in which people pay a small price for the chance to win a large prize. Sometimes the prizes are goods or services, and other times they’re sums of money. Lotteries are often run by government agencies, although privately organized lotteries are also common. Some of these are for housing units or kindergarten placements, but there’s a wide range of financial lotteries that dish out big bucks.

A lot of people play the lottery, even though the odds are very low that they’ll ever win. It’s an inextricable human impulse, but there’s also a darker underbelly to it. The ugly truth is that many of the people who play the lottery feel like it’s their last or only chance for a better life.

This video explains the basics of a lottery in a simple way. It could be used by kids & teens as part of their money & personal finance education, or by teachers & parents in a K-12 Financial Literacy course.

In the 17th century, the Continental Congress held lotteries to raise money for the Revolutionary War. It was a popular form of raising money because it wasn’t considered a tax and was viewed as a painless way to raise funds for public usages. Lotteries became especially popular in the 18th century, when state and private lotteries were used for a range of public projects. Many of these were schools: Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Brown, King’s College (now Columbia), and Union College all got their start in this way.