The History of the Lottery


The earliest recorded lotteries involved selling tickets with money prizes. The Low Countries towns organized public lotteries to raise money for town fortifications and poor people. Some town records suggest lotteries were much older than that. One record from L’Ecluse, France, mentions a lottery with 4,304 tickets and a prize of four hundred florins, the equivalent of about US$170,000 today. While some scholars question whether these early lotteries are real, there is plenty of evidence that suggests that these activities were prevalent in the Middle Ages.

Early American lotteries are mentioned in documents

Documents mention the lottery in several different contexts, from its earliest use in a state’s constitution to its first use as a means of fundraising. George Washington, for example, ran a lottery in the 1760s to finance construction of the mountain road in Virginia. Benjamin Franklin supported lotteries during the Revolutionary War, and John Hancock was instrumental in the rebuilding of Faneuil Hall in Boston. The majority of colonial-era lotteries were not successful, according to the 1999 report of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission.

New York was the first state to pass a constitutional prohibition against lotteries

Lotteries are not new to the United States. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, they became common. In the United States, the first lottery funding came from King James I, who used it to help pay for the settlement in Jamestown, Virginia. Lotteries were later used by both public and private organizations to raise money for wars, colleges, and public works.

Mega Millions and Powerball generate $81.6 billion in sales

The Mega Millions jackpot has made it the most popular lottery in the world, and a Wichita resident recently claimed her $1 million prize. She matched all five numbers on her $5 Quick Pick ticket, including the Megaball. Powerball players can now enter for “The Royal Treatment” prize, which includes tickets to the Royals Crown Club and autographed memorabilia. And in a $25,000 Makeover game, 10 players will each win a $500 gift card.

Lottery profits help fund public sector programs

Many state governments put lottery profits toward education and gambling addiction prevention. In fact, many states put lottery profits in a general fund to address budget shortfalls in important community areas, such as education. The rest of the money is usually allocated to public works and education. College scholarships and college grants are just two examples of programs that rely on lottery money. However, the exact amount of money allocated for these programs varies between states.

Players are encouraged to play responsibly

Responsible play has become a key element in the responsible gaming campaign of the Illinois Lottery. The campaign’s theme is “Be Smart, Play Smart,” reminding players to play responsibly, stick to a budget and have fun while playing. The Illinois Lottery also offers resources for responsible gambling, such as “How to play responsibly.”