The History of the Lottery
Lotteries date back to the early 19th century. George Washington conducted a lottery in the 1760s to finance the Mountain Road. Benjamin Franklin favored lotteries during the American Revolution to help pay for cannons. During the Boston Tea Party, John Hancock ran a lottery to help fund the reconstruction of Faneuil Hall. The popularity of lotteries declined in the 1820s and they became unpopular. Nevertheless, the NASPL reports that there are nearly 186,000 lotteries in the United States. Three-fourths of lottery retailers have an online presence. More than half of these retailers are convenience stores. Others include nonprofit organizations, service stations, restaurants, newsstands, and bars.
State-sponsored lotteries have long relied on super-users to generate much of their revenue. As a result, a small group of players account for 80 percent of all ticket sales. Because of this, some state legislators have proposed legislation to restrict lottery gaming and other forms of gambling. However, these measures will not affect the quality of lottery games and will not deter lottery participants from playing responsibly. It is important to remember that the government’s money is used to build roads, bridges, and courthouses.
The first lotteries were conducted in the Low Countries, where public lotteries raised money for poor people and town fortifications. Some records from these times indicate that there were indeed older lotteries than we can imagine. A record dated 9 May 1445 from L’Ecluse, France, mentions a lottery in which there were 4,304 tickets. This would be equivalent to US$170,000 in today’s money.