A lottery is a form of gambling in which people pay a small sum of money to be in with a chance of winning a large prize. They are often administered by state and federal governments, but are also played by private individuals or organizations.
Lotteries have been around for centuries, with keno slips from the Han dynasty dated 205 and 187 BC being found in China. They are believed to have helped finance major government projects.
The first recorded lotteries in Europe were held in 15th-century Burgundy and Flanders, as towns attempted to raise money to defend themselves or aid the poor. In France, a system was introduced by Francis I in the 1500s.
Lotteries have a broad appeal as a means to raise money, with their simplicity, ease of organization, and popularity with the public. They are also used in a variety of other situations, such as sports team drafts and allocations of scarce medical treatment. However, they are not legal in all countries.