Lottery is a popular form of gambling, and states promote it as ways to raise revenue. But just how much money is actually generated and how meaningful that revenue is in the context of overall state budgets is debatable. People spend upwards of $100 billion per year on lottery tickets, and while it’s easy to dismiss that amount as small change, it isn’t.

The first lottery records date back to the Low Countries in the 15th century, where towns would hold public lotteries to raise money for town fortifications and help the poor. It is believed that the word lotteries originates from Middle Dutch lottere, or “action of drawing lots” (the Oxford English Dictionary suggests a calque from Middle French Loterie, or “lot game”), which in turn stems from Latin lotum, meaning “fate”.

In order to win the lottery, you have to play all of your tickets, but it can be difficult to choose which numbers to pick. Some numbers are chosen more often than others, but this is purely random chance. It’s best to avoid picking numbers that are close together, or that end in the same digit, as this increases your chances of sharing the prize with another winner. It also helps to buy more tickets and pool your money with friends, as this will increase your chances of winning the jackpot if you do happen to get lucky.

It’s also a good idea to avoid selecting numbers that are important to you, such as birthdays. Instead, try to select numbers that are less frequently chosen, such as the first 31. And be sure to buy your tickets only from authorized retailers – it’s illegal to sell lottery tickets online or by mail.