New York’s Official Lottery
Lotteries are government-run gambling games that draw numbers to determine winners. They’re one of the most popular forms of gambling in the United States, with a total prize pool of more than $42 billion.
Historically, people have used lotteries to collect money for public goods and services. In 1776, the Continental Congress voted to establish a lottery to raise funds for the American Revolution. Although the plan was ultimately abandoned, smaller public lotteries remained popular in the 1800s and helped fund a number of American colleges, including Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, King’s College (now Columbia), Union and Brown.
Today, the New York State Lottery is fully state-operated and sells a variety of lottery games, such as the Powerball and Mega Millions. The New York Lottery also offers scratch-off tickets, video lottery terminals and online services. The company claims that the game’s proceeds have been devoted to education, and the lottery has held up to its promise by raising billions of dollars in support of schools across the country.
While the state lottery does provide revenue, critics say it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars. For every dollar spent on a ticket, no more than 40 percent goes to the state, and that’s a drop in the bucket for actual state governments, amounting to as little as 1 to 2 percent of overall state revenues.
But some experts believe the lottery is attractive to vulnerable communities, especially those struggling with a weak economy and high unemployment rates. They argue that the lottery provides a “mechanism of the American dream” for people who face discrimination in the real world and struggle to make ends meet.