Lottery is a type of gambling where a random selection is made of people in order to allocate prizes. It can also be used for other decisions, such as filling vacancies in a sports team among equally qualified individuals, placements in school or university and so on.

A lottery consists of a pool or collection of tickets and their counterfoils from which the winners are selected by a process that relies entirely on chance. Tickets and their counterfoils must first be thoroughly mixed, typically by shaking or tossing, in a procedure known as “randomizing.” Then a number or symbol is drawn to determine the winning ticket. In modern lotteries this is usually done with a computer system.

In the immediate post-World War II period many states introduced lotteries in order to raise money to pay for an expanding array of public services without imposing especially onerous taxes on the working class and middle class. But this arrangement may be coming to an end, as state governments face growing deficits. If so, lotteries may become less common.