In the immediate post-World War II period, states were seeking ways to expand social safety nets and pay for infrastructure without inflaming an anti-tax electorate. In that environment, lotteries became a natural choice. As Cohen puts it, “Lottery proceeds seemed to represent an abridgement of taxation that wouldn’t bother the masses.”
Over the course of their existence, state-run lotteries raised about $502 billion. That sounds like a lot of money, but when you put it in perspective, it’s really just a drop in the bucket for actual state governments, making up between 1 and 2 percent of total state revenue, depending on how much is collected and how efficiently it is spent.
While many state-run lotteries are legitimate, you can’t forget that illegal gambling still exists. It’s a problem that can affect anyone, even those who play the official lottery. It’s why it’s important to be aware of what the rules are in any state you play, and to follow them.
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