New York’s Official Lottery

Throughout history, governments have used lotteries to generate revenue by selling chances to win prizes of money or goods. In the modern era, when state budgets were being squeezed by a growing population and inflation, lottery supporters argued that the proceeds of the game would help to fund public services without forcing taxpayers to increase taxes or cut programs that citizens considered important. The first state to adopt a lottery was New Hampshire in 1964; it was followed by thirteen states within a few years.

The modern state lottery evolved along relatively predictable lines: politicians legislated a monopoly for the lottery; created a public corporation to run it; began operations with a small number of relatively simple games; and then, as pressure for additional revenues increased, enlarged its offerings by introducing more sophisticated and addictive games. These changes also prompted criticism of the lottery, including claims that it was targeting poorer people and providing compulsive gamblers with more opportunities to bet their money away.

New York lawmakers have been working to address the problems that can result from winning the lottery, especially when it leads to a sudden wealth boom. The state’s winners often find themselves harassed by financial advisers and solicitors, many of them scam artists, who take advantage of New Yorkers unfamiliar with the rules governing their sudden wealth and their obligations to pay taxes and other fees.