History of the Lottery


Throughout history, various states have used lotteries to raise money for public projects. Usually, the money raised goes towards schools and colleges, as well as for public projects like roads, libraries, bridges and more.

Lotteries were also popular during the French and Indian Wars. Roman emperors reportedly used lotteries to give away property, as well as slaves. They also raised money to finance public works projects like roads and canals.

The Chinese Han Dynasty recorded lottery slips dating from 205-187 BC, which were believed to be used to finance major government projects. The 1999 report of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission describes the majority of colonial-era lotteries as “unsuccessful.”

King James I of England founded a lottery in order to raise funds for the Jamestown, Virginia settlement. Benjamin Franklin supported lotteries as a way to raise money for cannons in the Revolutionary War.

Lotteries became widespread in the United States after the Civil War. They were largely tolerated by the social classes in some cases, but were criticized in other cases. Some states reportedly banned lotteries in the late nineteenth century.

After World War II, lotteries remained a popular way to raise funds for public projects. Many lotteries have teamed with sports teams and other companies to promote their games. These promotional efforts include brand name promotions, featuring well-known celebrities.

Several states launched lotteries in the early twentieth century, including Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont, Wisconsin, Idaho and Oregon. In 2005, the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries reported U.S. lottery sales had reached $56.4 billion.