The official lottery is state-run and provides funds that go to support the state itself, like public education or infrastructure. Other lottery games, such as private lotteries or scratch-off tickets, may be illegal in some states and are a frequent source of scams and fraud. If you receive a letter or phone call saying that you have won the lottery, be sure to contact the official lottery website to confirm. Also, beware of people claiming to be law enforcement officers or lawyers who offer to recover your winnings. These people are almost always fraudsters and may request a fee payment.
Cohen takes the reader on a quick trip through lottery history, noting that it originated in early America as a response to exigency. The country was short on money, and a deep-rooted antipathy to taxation made lottery gambling appealing. It enabled the government to raise revenue without arousing opposition from the populace, and it proved an effective alternative to raising taxes or cutting services.
Historically, lottery proceeds have been used for everything from building churches to supplying soldiers with weapons. Even the founding fathers ran a few, including Benjamin Franklin’s to help fund his battery of guns for defense of Philadelphia and John Hancock’s to rebuild Faneuil Hall in Boston. But the lottery is also susceptible to corruption, and the author cites numerous examples of fraud and graft that have plagued the game in recent decades. Those who buy and sell lottery tickets are often ripped off by greedy promoters, corrupt officials, and unscrupulous brokers and financial advisers.