The lottery is a form of entertainment for many people across the country. Approximately 17 percent of American households play the lottery regularly, and a quarter of those individuals play every week. The remainder of players play once or twice a month or less. Among those who play frequently, the majority are middle-aged men with a high school education.
Lotteries are operated by state governments and are not commercially operated. The government uses the proceeds from the lottery to fund programs and services in each state. As of August 2004, there were forty states that operated a lottery. Almost every American adult resides in a state with a lottery. A lottery ticket can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18 who is physically present in the state.
In the Low Countries, the first lottery games with money prizes were held in the 15th century. Various towns used the games to raise funds for public works and for the poor. In fact, the oldest known lottery in the United States dates back to 1612. King James I of England founded the Staatsloterij, or “The Lottery,” in 1612 to fund a settlement in Jamestown, Virginia. After the lottery became widely popular in the United States, it was used by private and public organizations for various purposes including raising funds for wars, colleges, public-works projects, and towns.
Many lotteries have partnered with companies and sports franchises for their games. The New Jersey Lottery Commission, for instance, recently announced a Harley-Davidson motorcycle scratch game prize. These merchandising deals benefit both the lottery and the company. Not only do they provide publicity for lottery games, but they also help the lottery companies promote their products and services.