The state lottery is a popular revenue source for most governments. Even in states with good fiscal situations, lotteries enjoy strong public support.
However, there are concerns about the impact of new lottery games. These concerns include the possibility of increasing problem gambling and increased opportunities for people to become dependent on gambling.
Lotteries can also be criticized for being a tax on poor people. Lottery players are often covetous of the things money can buy. In addition, they are generally not suspicious of playing the lottery.
Historically, the introduction of lotteries has followed the same pattern in virtually every state. A state legislature establishes a state agency to operate the lottery.
The agency usually begins operations with a modest number of simple games. It then expands its size and complexity. During this time, the focus on the operations of the lottery often shifts from the overall purpose of the lottery to specific features.
Most states that operate the lottery collect between 20 and 30% of the gross revenues generated by the lottery. Typically, the state dedicates the lottery proceeds to a particular program or project. This appropriation cuts into the general fund.
Critics argue that lotteries promote gambling addiction and destitution. They also claim that the regressive nature of the lottery contributes to other abuses.
State officials are under pressure to increase revenue. The public wants to see states spend more. Consequently, the legislatures are quickly accustomed to the extra revenue.