History of the Lottery


In the 1980s, the lottery fever started spreading to the south and west. The state of North Dakota, as well as the District of Columbia, were among the first to start lottery games. Other states followed, with six more joining in the 1990s and 2000. South Carolina, North Dakota, and Oklahoma followed. By 2004, there were a total of nineteen states with lotteries. In addition to North Dakota, six more states began lottery games in the US in 2000.

In colonial America, George Washington conducted a lottery in 1764 to fund the Mountain Road in Virginia. Benjamin Franklin also supported lotteries during the American Revolution and used funds from them to build colleges. Several other colonial leaders used the profits of lotteries to build cities and towns. The United States, for example, had hundreds of private lotteries in the eighteenth century. These lotteries also helped fund public works projects and wars.

The first recorded lotteries in Europe offered money prizes for tickets. The first lotteries were public games organized by wealthy noblemen during Saturnalian revels. These games raised money for local public projects and were generally praised as painless taxation. The oldest known lottery, the Staatsloterij in Amsterdam, dates back to 1426. During that period, the English word lottery was borrowed from the Dutch noun “lotus,” which means “fate.”