The National Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL) released its most recent figures for sales of lottery games for each state and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in 2003. Of the 50 states, nine saw sales decline, with Delaware’s sales down 6.8%. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico, West Virginia and Florida all posted increases of at least 25%. Ultimately, these figures suggest that the popularity of the lottery has reached a new high.
As a political source of revenue, lotteries have proved to be a mixed blessing. While the US lottery program raises $60 billion annually, many other countries collect far higher sums. Lottery play in Australia has resulted in higher tax collections than any other source of revenue. But whether or not lottery play is a good idea ultimately depends on how much money is raised for public goods. And the debate continues! So, what is the historical context of lottery?
Game of chance
Lottery is a game of chance in which players choose a set of numbers from a pool of 60. Players buy tickets for $1-$2 each, and fill out a computer-coded card with their number selections. The numbers are selected by a computerized system, which generates a ticket for the draw. The computer stores player information, including lottery numbers selected, and generates the ticket and receipt.
While most countries tax the lottery and gambling winnings as a business income, others consider them to be “occasional” sources of income. Germany, for example, taxes gambling income from professional card players as a business, and TV shows that feature gambling as a side activity are taxable as other income. Act 896 in Ghana recognized lottery activity as an investment, and taxed it accordingly. Since then, taxation of lottery winnings in Ghana has undergone a series of changes, but was repealed in 2018.
The division that oversees all Lottery public relations has four units. One is the Finance Division, which was formerly known as Administration, Finance, and Operations. The Finance Division was reorganized into the Administration, Finance and Information Technology division in 2015. The other two units are Public Affairs and Special Projects. Each has its own unique functions and goals. In addition to focusing on Lottery public relations, the Finance Division also oversees several other Lottery divisions.