Simple raffles are the commonest form. They are popular as fund-raisers with charities and sports clubs, the prizes usually donated by well-wishers.
For ticket buyers they are a painless way of supporting good causes. Although governments throughout the world find lotteries an acceptable method of raising revenue, the only national lottery run in Britain is the Premium Bonds scheme.
Bonds can be bought at most post offices, banks and Trustee Savings Banks, in blocks of various denominations, and can be cashed at their face value at any time, but no interest is paid on them, the hypothetical interest forming the pool from which winners are paid.
Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment--- ERNIE--- generates the winning numbers. The unit is 1 pound and there are monthly and weekly draws, prizes ranging from 50,000 pounds to 25.
A lottery which has flourished since the 1930s, despite the fact that it is illegal everywhere except Ireland is the Irish Hospital's Sweepstake.
A Dublin company, Hospital Trust (1940) Limited, is authorized by the government to run the sweep for the benefit of Irish hospitals.
Tickets for the sweep are benefit are sold by agents who smuggle them into countries all over the world: Great Britain, the United States, and Canada are the biggest markets. The sweep is based on a few major horse races a year: currently the Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire Handicaps, the Irish Derby and the Irish Sweeps Hurdle.
Millions of tickets priced at 1 pound are sold on each race. The stubs are returned to Dublin, where at a grand ceremony the names of the runners and the ticket numbers are drawn from separate drums by Irish ticket-holder who draws a horse might be over 100,000 pounds.
Because of its illegality abroad, requiring the employment of thousands of 'secret' agents, the expenses of running the sweep are high, and early in 1973 newspapers asked questions about the percentage of receipts finding its way to the hospitals.
Bingo is a lottery. It is very popular in America, and since the 1960s has enjoyed a boom in Britain, where the decline of filmgoing led to many cinemas being converted into bingo halls. Players buy cards (the purchase price is their stake) on which are squares numbered with 24 of the numbers between 1 and 90 )1-75 is the range in America).
Each card bears a different combination of numbers. Table tennis balls numbered 1-90 are ejected from a cage and the numbers announced by a caller.
When a number is called, players with that number on their card cancel it. When a player has all his numbers canceled, he shouts 'Bingo', and after his card has been checked he wins the prize.
Sometimes prizes are awarded to the first player with a line of column filled with rather than the whole card. This sort of high speed bingo was noted in 1973 by the British Gaming Board, who were concerned that excessive action might creep into the neighborhood game.