Lottery is a game of chance in which tokens are distributed or sold, with prizes given to those whose tokens are drawn at random. In a state lottery, the prizes are usually cash or goods, but may also be services or even land. Lotteries are popular with the general public and raise enormous sums of money for a wide variety of state, charitable, and private purposes. The word lottery derives from the Dutch noun lot (fate) and may be a calque of Middle French loterie (action of drawing lots).

Lotteries are government-sponsored games of chance in which players purchase tickets for a chance to win a prize based on a drawing at random. Some states run a state lottery, while others offer national lotteries with a broader number pool. Lotteries can be legal or illegal and can have a significant impact on the economy, especially in poorer regions of the country.

Historically, the prizes in a lotteries were fixed amounts of cash or goods. Now the prizes often take the form of a percentage of total receipts. This arrangement eliminates the risk to the promoter and allows for larger prizes.

The distribution of property by chance is as old as humankind, and the concept has been a popular way to finance projects for many centuries. Early European lotteries were organized to raise funds for a variety of purposes, including building the British Museum and repairs to Rome. They were also a common amusement at dinner parties and Saturnalian celebrations.