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Lottery programs operate at two levels: national and state. The former features multi-state game offerings that may cross state lines, while the latter includes programs managed by individual states in accordance with their own laws and regulations.
Nationally, there are a number of different branded lotteries that are sold by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). MUSL was established in 1992 to allow participating states to manage and promote national lottery games in a cost-effective manner. Illinois joined MUSL in 1993 and was the first state to participate in Powerball, the multi-jurisdictional lottery drawing that has since grown to become one of the largest games in the world.
The broader message that lottery commissions promote is that playing the lottery is good because it raises money for states. But that’s only true if you put it in the context of overall state revenue. Lottery revenue is actually a very small percentage of state government budgets.
The reason why it’s a small percentage is because the lottery is regressive, meaning that it takes advantage of people who don’t have much discretionary income. Lottery players are overwhelmingly from the 21st through 60th percentiles of income distribution, and they spend a significant portion of their incomes buying tickets. This is not a good way to fund the services that these people need.