The History of the Lottery


The lottery is a game where people buy tickets for a chance to win a prize. Some prizes are cash, while others are goods or services. There are many different ways to participate in a lottery, including online, telephone, and mail-in entries. Some states have their own lotteries while others have national or regional lotteries. In the United States, state-run lotteries are a popular source of revenue for public projects. In 2006, lottery profits accounted for about 20% of all state revenues. The history of lotteries dates back centuries. The drawing of lots to determine ownership or other rights is recorded in ancient documents, including the Bible and Roman emperors’ giving away land and slaves. State governments in the immediate post-World War II period promoted lotteries as a way to increase social spending without raising taxes.

In the 1960s, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin began state lotteries. New York introduced a state lottery in 1967 and it became so popular that people from neighboring states came across state lines to purchase tickets. New Jersey and Ohio joined the fun in the 1970s, and by the end of the decade twelve states (Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin) had state lotteries.

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