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scheme for distributing prizes by lot or other method of chance selection to persons who have paid for the opportunity to win. The term is not applicable when lots are drawn without payment by the interested parties to determine some matter, e.g., the distribution of property among heirs. The absence of any element of skill or play distinguishes the lottery as a form of gambling. Under common law in England and the United States lotteries were lawful. They paid for many public buildings and founded and supported educational, charitable, and religious enterprises. Private lotteries, which were particularly susceptible to fraudulent practices, were first generally prohibited in the early 19th cent. Most publicly sponsored lotteries were discontinued not long afterward. With the adoption in 1890 of a federal statute prohibiting the transportation of lottery tickets or prizes by mail or in interstate commerce, the largest American state lottery—that of Louisiana—came to an end. It was not until more than 50 years later that state lotteries were again legalized in the United States, when New Hampshire authorized (1963) a sweepstakes lottery, the proceeds of which were to go to education. With the assistance of computers, most states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands now operate daily and weekly lotteries with huge payoffs. States and territories also participate in regional and multistate lotteries, ranging from All or Nothing (Iowa and Minnesota) to the nearly nationwide Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries. Often the lottery drawings are televised. Lotteries are also lawful in many other countries, some of which jointly operate multinational lotteries.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a voluntary form of revenue raising through the sale of lottery tickets; some percentage of the funds raised is raffled off in the form of money or other prizes. In one type of lottery, called a lotereia-allegri in Russian, lots are drawn immediately after a chance has been bought.

In the USSR lotteries are authorized by the Council of Ministers of the USSR or the council of ministers of a Union republic. In the first years of the Soviet power, lotteries were arranged by the local soviet or social organizations to attract funds from the population for cultural, educational, and other purposes. Since 1926 lotteries organized by various voluntary agencies, such as the Society for the Promotion of Defense and Aviation and Chemical Construction, the Red Cross, and the Red Crescent, have been popular. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45 funds were raised by state lotteries to finance the strengthening of the country’s defense. From 1958, state lotteries (including money or prize lotteries, sports lotteries, lotteries put on by the All-Union Voluntary Society for Cooperation With the Army, Air Force, and Navy of the USSR, and lotteries of works of art) are organized in the Union republics, with the income from these lotteries going to the state budgets of the republics.

In other socialist countries (for example, Bulgaria, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia), money lotteries are conducted on a large scale. Local state agencies and social organizations also organize money lotteries.

In capitalist countries, lotteries are organized by municipalities, voluntary social agencies, and local institutions; some countries (Italy and France) conduct state lotteries.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a method of raising money by selling numbered tickets and giving a proportion of the money raised to holders of numbers drawn at random
2. a similar method of raising money in which players select a small group of numbers out of a larger group printed on a ticket. If a player's selection matches some or all of the numbers drawn at random the player wins a proportion of the prize fund
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Earlier, a budget proposal was made by the Finance Ministry last year, to increase the prices of lottery tickets.
where X = the quantity of lottery tickets, P = the price of lottery tickets, and M = income.
The state is promoting the new tickets by bringing The Bacon Truck, a Boston-based food truck, to sites around the state to hand out free lottery tickets and strips of bacon.
The Stratford missing ticket is the latest in a series of unclaimed lottery tickets in Coventry and Warwickshire.
He said in his filings that lottery tickets "are bearer instruments, and accordingly, the party in actual physical possession of said instrument is the legal owner of said property."
A group of friends and family in the US state of Michigan have hit the jackpot after jointly winning nearly $129 million (Au80m) with a lottery ticket bought at a Detroit adult bookstore.
No state can offer a prize on a lottery ticket on the basis of single, double or triple digits in any form.
Complains Texas Baptist lobbyist Rob Kohler: "The most expensive lottery ticket has gone from costing no more than a candy bar to now being the most expensive item in convenience stores.
In June 1991 George and Angeline Lattera purchased a Pennsylvania lottery ticket for $1 and won $9,595,326.
Today in America, it's actually easier to buy a lottery ticket than a Big Mac: There are more than 185,000 outlets where you can buy the former, only 13,700 that sell the latter.
In addition, there are more lottery ticket retailers in lower-income areas (even taking into account that people may play the lottery in areas other than where they live).
But even if gambling doesn't become a problem for the vast majority of Americans who buy a lottery ticket or place a bet, what do we owe the millions of those for whom gambling is a life-wrecking addiction or an unjust tax?