What Motivates People to Play the Lottery?
Most states (and the District of Columbia) have lotteries, a form of gambling in which numbered tickets are sold and the winners are determined by chance. Although the drawing of lots for determining decisions and fates has a long record in human history, public lotteries that distribute money prizes are rather recent. They are typically organized by state governments or public corporations, are publicly regulated, and aim to be verifiably fair and equitable.
The earliest recorded public lotteries were held in the Low Countries in the 15th century, to raise funds for town fortifications and to help the poor. They were based on the casting of lots and used private and public funds to award winning tickets.
People play lottery games for many reasons, including the desire to win a large sum of money, and to avoid paying taxes. However, most researchers agree that the primary motive for playing is that of hedonistic pleasure. This is largely why lotteries are so successful. They provide an outlet for this inextricable part of the human psyche.
Lottery players are also motivated by a desire to be socially responsible, and this is an important aspect of the way in which they are perceived by the media. Hence, the emphasis on state-level social benefit programs and the promotion of lotteries as an alternative to other forms of taxation. Nonetheless, socioeconomic patterns indicate that the bulk of lottery players are drawn from middle-income neighborhoods, and far fewer proportionally from lower-income ones.