A lottery is a game of chance in which a prize is offered to people who buy tickets. The prizes vary but are usually cash. People of all ages and incomes play the lotto for different reasons. Some play it for fun while others see it as their only shot at wealth or good fortune. Despite the low odds of winning, lotteries generate billions of dollars in revenue each year. This money benefits many communities and individuals, but critics say the lottery is a form of gambling that disproportionately hurts low-income people and minorities.

States regulate their own lotteries and establish laws regarding the game, as well as selecting and licensing retailers to sell and redeem tickets. They also set the prize amounts, distribute winning tickets, and administer high-tier prizes. In addition, they ensure that lottery games are conducted fairly and legally. Most state lotteries are operated by a separate division within the government, and this agency will often be charged with marketing, public relations, and education.

The first recorded European lotteries were held in the 15th century to raise funds for town fortifications and the poor. These early lotteries took the form of drawing lots to determine winners, and the prizes were often goods such as dinnerware. Today’s lotteries are more sophisticated, and the prizes are often cash or free travel. Some of the most popular lotteries are the Powerball and Mega Millions, which offer large jackpots.

In the United States, 44 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia operate a state-sponsored lottery. The six states that do not — Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Utah, and Nevada — either have religious objections or are unwilling to share the revenue generated by their gambling.

Most state-run lotteries are administered by a lottery board or commission, which is a governmental entity or a private corporation licensed by the state to conduct the lottery. The lottery board or commission will have a staff of employees to administer the lottery, including establishing and maintaining rules and regulations, selecting and training retail workers to sell and redeem tickets, overseeing the selection of retailers, promoting the lottery, paying winning players, and ensuring that all activities are in compliance with state law.

The lottery is a popular source of funding for public programs, especially schools and education. The amount of money that is distributed to individual counties varies by state, but each lottery program is required to spend at least 10 percent of its net revenue on public education. The State Controller’s Office determines how much is dispersed to K-12 and community college districts, based on average daily attendance and full-time enrollment data. The remainder is allocated to various projects, including the creation of jobs and housing assistance. Click or tap a county on the map, or type a name into the search box below to view the lottery contributions to education in that county. The data is updated quarterly. The total contribution for each county is rounded to the nearest hundred thousand.