The official lottery offers fun, convenience and information to players on the go. This app allows you to check your winning numbers, watch jackpots grow and play daily games like Keno, Hot Spot, Fast Play, and more. You can also get customized push notifications to stay on top of jackpots and draw games.

The first state lotteries in the United States were established to raise money for specific institutions, and for centuries this was how many churches, universities, and other buildings that we think of as iconic American landmarks came into existence. In fact, most American colleges owe their existence to lotteries: Harvard, Yale, and Brown were all founded with lottery money. The New York state legislature even held a lottery to pay for Columbia University.

Today, most state governments run a lotto, and it’s easy to understand why: It’s an inexpensive way to bring in revenue. In fact, a single lotto can rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in prize money, while costing just a few million to operate.

As the lotteries grew in popularity, they also became popular with politicians looking for a way to maintain services without raising taxes. For example, New Jersey, which has no income or sales tax, relies on its lotto to generate millions of dollars in revenue every year.

This is what led to the rise of multi-state lotteries: Once one state started a lottery, it wasn’t long before neighboring states followed suit. As a result, the number of states running the lottery rapidly expanded, and with it the size of jackpots, and the amount of money people were willing to spend.

What’s more, state lottery advertising campaigns often target low income neighborhoods, leading those Americans to believe that the lottery is a quick and easy way to build wealth. As a result, low-income groups are far more likely to buy lottery tickets than higher-income ones. In fact, research has shown that scratch-off ticket purchases are significantly higher in neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of Black or Latino residents.

Ultimately, though, all that money just winds up in state coffers. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, on average, lotteries bring in about one percent of a state’s annual revenue. That’s not much, but it does matter: After all, lotteries make it harder to pass much-needed tax increases, as the public wrongly believes that schools and other vital services are lavishly supported by gambling revenues.

What’s more, the lottery is a regressive tax on poorer communities. Because lower-income Americans are more likely to purchase lottery tickets, they also contribute a greater share of the total funds raised. This is why critics call the lottery a “tax on the stupid.” It’s a misleading label, but it does capture the fact that lotteries are regressive and harm the communities that need them most. The truth is that if we want to build a better society, we need to stop transferring wealth out of those communities and into the hands of big gamblers.