History of the Lottery


The lottery is a popular form of gambling wherein a player pays a small amount of money for a chance to win a prize. The money raised by the lottery is then spent on a variety of purposes. Some examples of lottery games include the PowerBall drawing, which offers the chance to win millions of dollars, and season ticket drawings, wherein a player can win one of a few available tickets to a particular team’s home game.

In FY 2006, the U.S. state lotteries generated more than $17.1 billion in lottery profits. State lottery profits are allocated differently by state. Table 7.2 shows the cumulative allocation of lottery profits to different beneficiaries since 1967. New York topped the list, with nearly $30 billion dedicated to education. Other states with large Catholic populations are California, New Jersey, and Washington state. As a result of this large, growing trend, lottery sales in these states are steadily increasing.

The history of the lottery is long and varied. The earliest recorded lotteries were held in the 17th century in the Low Countries. These lottery games were held for many purposes, including funding public works and fortifications. In the early 17th century, the lottery was first tied to the United States, as King James I of England created a lottery to provide funds for the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. Since then, lottery funds have been used to fund towns, wars, colleges, and public works projects.