History of Lottery Games


Throughout history, lottery games have been played for money. The first ones were essentially raffles, and participants waited weeks to find out if they won. Today, most lotteries have web sites and toll-free numbers. These resources can tell patrons about prizes they’ve won and ones that are still available for purchase.

In the United States, state governments operate lotteries. These monopolies are often funded by a percentage of the revenues. State governments use the money for programs and services. As of August 2004, there were forty state lotteries in operation. During that time, ninety percent of the population lived in a state that operated a lottery. Anyone over the age of 18 may purchase a lottery ticket.

Lottery games have a long history in the United States. Benjamin Franklin, for example, organized a lottery in 1776 to raise funds for cannons for Philadelphia’s defense. Other notable early lotteries included George Washington’s Mountain Road Lottery, which failed. Despite its failure, some lottery tickets with Washington’s signature became collector’s items. In 1769, Washington served as manager for Col. Bernard Moore’s “Slave Lottery.” This lottery offered land and slaves as prizes.

In the 17th century, lottery games were common in the Low Countries. During this period, various towns held public lotteries to raise funds to build walls and provide assistance for the poor. It was considered a tax-free way to raise money for various public purposes. As a result, it became a popular means of fund raising. The first French lottery, called the Loterie Royale, took place in 1539 and was sanctioned by the edict of Chateaurenard. However, this lottery was a disaster. In addition, tickets were very expensive, and the social classes were opposed to the project. In the next two centuries, the lottery was banned in France, though some towns tolerated it.