Lottery is a type of gambling in which a person can win a prize by drawing numbers. Prizes vary, but are usually cash or goods. Typically, the state government runs the lottery. Some states have a single lottery, while others run multiple lotteries. Lottery games are usually regulated by law, and prizes must be paid in a timely manner.

Many people who buy a ticket do so even though they have little to no chance of winning. They are buying a dream, or so they tell themselves. They are buying the day or two when they can sketch out the layout of their mansion, script their “take this job and shove it” moment with their boss or coworkers, or even just think about the things that might be different if they were suddenly rich.

There is a bit more to it than that, of course. The reason that states first adopted lotteries is a complicated story of circumstances and politics. But there is also this belief that gambling is inevitable, that people are going to gamble, and the state might as well capture some of that action.

Whether that is true or not, the result is that most states, 44 to be exact, now run a lottery. The six states that don’t—Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, Utah, and Nevada, home to Las Vegas—are primarily motivated by religious concerns or the fact that they already have their own forms of gambling, such as casinos.