The Official Lottery – Raising Money For Public Purposes

The official lottery is a state-sponsored game in which people buy chances to win prizes. While many governments have banned gambling, some allow official lotteries to raise money for public purposes. These lotteries can take a variety of forms, including raffles, keno and bingo. Despite being considered a form of gambling, the official lottery has been a source of government revenue for centuries.

In the nineteen-sixties, Cohen argues, growing awareness of the profits to be made in the lottery business collided with a crisis in state funding. As the cost of education, social services and military spending rose, balancing the budget became increasingly difficult without either raising taxes or cutting services—both options would have been extremely unpopular with voters.

When officials began arguing that the revenue from a state lottery could float the entire budget, legalization advocates shifted strategy. Instead of claiming that the lottery would pay for a broad range of popular government services, they now emphasized a specific line item—usually education but sometimes elder care or public parks or aid to veterans. This approach made it easier to frame a vote for the lottery as a vote for education, rather than as a vote for gambling.

The North Dakota Lottery is a responsible operator of a regulated gaming industry and promotes responsible play. If you have a problem, please call 1-800-BETS-OFF or visit GamblerND for help. You must be 18 years old or older to purchase tickets and redeem prizes.