History of the Lottery


Lottery fever spread to the United States during the 1980s, when 17 states and the District of Columbia introduced lotteries. Since then, six additional states have added their own lotteries, with Tennessee, North Carolina, and Oklahoma following suit. The lottery was popular enough to be legal in all 50 states by 2000. The following year, a third lottery was added: Texas. By the time of the 2004 elections, twenty-three states had lotteries.

In the 1760s, George Washington conducted a lottery to help finance the building of Mountain Road in Virginia. Later, in the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin supported lotteries and used the money to buy cannons. And in Boston, a lotto was used to fund the reconstruction of Faneuil Hall. Later, lotteries went out of style and were considered harmful to the public. In 1832, the Boston Mercantile Journal reported that 420 lotteries were operating in eight states.

Because lottery games are so popular and easy to organize, it is easy to see why they are so popular. While they do attract starry-eyed participants hoping to win a piece of the multi-million dollar pie, the process of lottery playing is safe for those who wish to play responsibly and spend within their means. After all, the odds of winning are low. You’ll still have to buy a ticket and maybe even make a deposit, so the stakes are low!

The first recorded lotteries in Europe involved selling tickets for money prizes. These events were typically held during dinner parties where all of the guests received a ticket, and prizes were often dinnerware. The wealthy noblemen held these games during Saturnalian revelries. There are several early records of lottery, including a lottery organized by the Roman Emperor Augustus for the city of Rome’s repairs. The prizes awarded to the winners were often articles of unequal value.

The practice of dividing property by lot has been around for centuries. In the Old Testament, Moses is instructed to take a census and divide the land among the people of Israel. The Romans had lotteries to give away property and slaves. Lotteries became a popular entertainment in ancient Rome. Interestingly enough, apophoreta was Greek for “that which is carried home”.

Today, the lottery industry is responsible for funding many important public-sector projects. Whether these initiatives are focused on public health, education, or other public needs, lottery proceeds support these efforts. Today, Powerball and Mega Millions are two of the most popular games on the U.S. market. Together, they bring in $81.6 billion in sales every month. But is lottery gambling responsible? We’ll have to wait and see.

The excitement of winning a lottery can be both exciting and embarrassing. Some lotteries require that you publicly display your name and P.O. Box, and other details of your winnings. Changing your address and phone number may be the best choice if you wish to remain anonymous. Besides this, some winners opt for a blind trust, wherein they keep their identity out of the limelight. You can read more about this type of lottery winning strategy in our How to Play the Lottery guide.