People like to fantasize about what they would do if they won the lottery. They might think of shopping sprees or taking fancy vacations. Others might dream about paying off mortgages or student loans. Still others might be able to put the money into savings or investments and live off the interest. Whatever the case, most people know that a lottery is not an easy way to get rich. This article from CBS MoneyWatch explores some of the reasons why.

A lottery is a game of chance where the winners are selected through a random drawing. It is usually run by the state or the government. It is considered gambling, as the odds of winning are very low. But unlike most games of chance, the winnings are substantial, and in many cases can run into millions of dollars.

This game of chance is a major source of revenue for the states, and has become very popular in recent years. It has broad public support in the United States, with more than 60% of adults reporting that they have played. It has also developed extensive specific constituencies, including convenience store operators (who are the primary vendors for the lottery); suppliers to the lotteries (heavy contributions from these companies to state political campaigns are routinely reported); teachers (in those states in which the proceeds are earmarked for education); and state legislators (who quickly become accustomed to receiving the extra revenues).

Lotteries have long been a popular method of raising funds for a variety of private and public purposes. Benjamin Franklin organized a lottery in 1748 to help fund the establishment of a militia to defend Philadelphia against marauding French forces, and George Washington ran one in 1767 to finance the construction of a road across Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

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