History of the Lottery


Throughout history, lotteries have provided funding for a variety of public projects. They were mainly used for public works, such as roads, bridges, and libraries. During the French and Indian Wars, several colonies used lotteries to fund military operations. They also financed colleges and universities, including the University of Pennsylvania.

The first known European lotteries were held during the Roman Empire. According to the Chinese Book of Songs, the game of chance was called “drawing of wood and lots.” During the Roman Empire, lotteries were also reportedly used for giving away slaves.

In the United States, lotteries first became tied to the nation in 1612. King James I of England organized a lottery to raise funds for the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. The colonial Congress later used lotteries to raise money for the Colonial Army and to rebuild Faneuil Hall in Boston. Some states also used lotteries to finance colleges and universities, as well as public works projects.

During the 17th century, lotteries were also common in the Netherlands. In the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, several towns held public lotteries to raise money for public projects. Lotteries were often organized so that a percentage of the profits would be donated to good causes. In 1755, the Academy Lottery financed the University of Pennsylvania.

In the nineteenth century, various states used lotteries to raise money for public projects. In 1890, the state of Idaho established a lottery. In 1890, the state of Colorado also began a lottery. In 1890, the states of New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington also started lotteries. The state of Montana started a lottery in 1890, as well.

Lotteries also financed roads and canals, and colleges and universities. The first recorded lotteries with money prizes were held in the Low Countries in the fifteenth century. The Roman Empire also held lotteries, but they were mainly for amusement at dinner parties. The first known lotteries in Europe were held during the Saturnalian revels. The town records of Ghent indicate that lotteries may have been used as early as the fourth century.

In the early twentieth century, negative attitudes about gambling began to soften. This was partly due to the failure of Prohibition. However, many people still believed that lotteries were a form of hidden tax. This was particularly true in the early 1900s. This was partially due to the failure of Prohibition, but lingering fears about fraud also kept lotteries out of the public eye for two decades.

Since 1967, a total of $234.1 billion has been given to various beneficiaries through lotteries. Of these profits, $17.1 billion was given to the states and $15.6 billion was given to New York, California, and New Jersey.

In 2006, sales of lotteries increased by 9%. The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries reported that sales of lottery tickets in the United States reached $56.4 billion in 2006. This was up from $52.6 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2005.