Official lottery is a form of government-sponsored gambling. The proceeds are used for public education or other state purposes. While some critics of the lottery argue that it is a “tax on the stupid,” others note that lottery revenues have been a boon for states struggling to balance budgets without raising taxes or cutting public services. However, critics also argue that state lotteries are regressive and take a heavy toll on low-income citizens, especially those who buy the most tickets.
The modern incarnation of the lottery, Cohen writes, began in the nineteen-sixties when growing awareness of all the money that could be made in the betting business collided with a crisis in state finances. With the costs of a burgeoning population and rising inflation, it became increasingly difficult for many states to meet their statutory obligations without either raising taxes or reducing services.
In addition to state income tax, New York law requires the lottery to withhold from winnings any amounts greater than $5,000 or those paid in trust. Winners must provide the lottery with a valid social security number or other identifying information to verify their identity and claim prizes.
The New York Lottery was started in 1967, and is a bearer instrument, meaning that only the person named on the ticket is entitled to its prize. To protect players from scams, the NY lottery only distributes tickets through authorized vendors. If you have questions about whether a retailer is licensed, call the Lottery at (518) 474-7755.