Lottery Advertising


The lottery is a form of gambling in which people attempt to win money or prizes by randomly drawing numbers. It is a popular source of entertainment and has been around for thousands of years. People have used lotteries for charitable and religious purposes as well as to gain material wealth. The modern state lottery began in New Hampshire in 1964, and most states now have lotteries. The success of the lottery depends on its appeal to a wide audience and its ability to generate revenue for its promoters.

Unlike other forms of gambling, lottery players are often rational actors. They make decisions based on the expected utility of both the monetary and non-monetary benefits. They consider the cost of buying and retaining tickets as well as the potential future value of the prize money. If the value of the non-monetary benefits is large enough, the ticket purchase may outweigh the negative monetary costs, thus making it a rational decision for them to play.

When the state first adopts a lottery, it typically legislates a monopoly for itself; establishes a public agency or corporation to run it; starts operations with a modest number of relatively simple games; and then, as revenues increase, progressively expands its game offerings, including new types of games. The introduction of new games is the primary source of growth in lottery revenues and remains an important tool for maintaining and enhancing the lottery’s popularity and market share.

Lottery advertising campaigns emphasize two main messages: that playing the lottery is fun and that it can improve a player’s quality of life. These messages obscure the regressivity of lotteries and the huge amounts of money spent by some players. They also conceal the fact that many people who play are poor and that lotteries have a profound effect on the distribution of household income.

Lottery advertising also stresses the benefits of lottery proceeds to the state. This argument is particularly effective in times of economic stress, when people fear that their taxes will be raised or their government services reduced. However, studies have shown that the popularity of a lottery is not correlated to a state’s objective fiscal circumstances.