The History of the Lottery


The lottery has a long and varied history. The first lottery in the United States was run by George Washington in the 1760s to fund construction of Mountain Road in Virginia. Later, Benjamin Franklin supported lottery funding to help finance the Revolutionary War. And finally, John Hancock used the proceeds of a lottery to rebuild Faneuil Hall in Boston. However, most colonial-era lotteries were not a great success. In fact, a report published in 1999 by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission called most of these lotteries “failures”.

The lottery is popular with low-income people. The NGISC final report noted that those who are not college graduates, have lower incomes, and spend more than people from middle-class families. Nevertheless, despite the popularity of the lottery, many respondents don’t see the payouts as promising. In fact, only 8% of lottery players believe they have ever won the lottery.

In 2003, there were nearly 186,000 lottery retailers in the United States. The states with the highest number of lottery retailers were Texas and New York. Approximately three-fourths of lottery retailers offer online services. Another quarter of lottery retailers are convenience stores. Other lottery retailers include newsstands, nonprofit organizations, and service stations.

Most lottery tickets cost just a dollar, and winning numbers are randomly chosen. The top prize amount can be in the hundreds of thousands. Some states have several different games.