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State Lotteries the Largest Form of US Gambling

While the word “gambling” may bring up visions of cards, dice, slot machines, and roulette wheels, the most common form of gambling the United States does not include any of those things. More people gamble on Lotto and lotteries every year than on any other form of gaming in the United States.

Bingo is also quite popular in the United States, with games available as charity for local churches to large Bingo halls which seat thousands of people. Bingo can be administered by private, for-profit companies, and while popular, accounts for only a small portion of gambling revenue in the US.

Unlike Bingo, governmental agencies have a monopoly on lotteries in the US. However, they are all run by individual states and jurisdictions, there is no national lottery in the United States. Currently, 43 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have a legal state-run lottery.

Most states run two or more forms of lotteries. An individual state will usually have a Lotto draw for its own state as well as running other games such as a pick-3, or scratch cards. The proceeds from these games go directly to the state where the law mandates how they are to be used; some states require all lottery money to go to one thing, in others it just goes to the general fund.

In addition to the games only for residents of that state, most states also participate in one of two multi-state lottery games, which increase the amount of entries, leading to bigger prize pools and more revenue. The revenue from these games is divided among the participating state based on the amount of tickets sold in that state. The two major multi-state games are Powerball, started in 1988, and Mega Millions. Each of these lotteries carries a weekly jackpot of tens of millions of dollars and is available to hundreds of millions of players in more than half the US states.


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