The History of American Lottery Games


In the U.S., lottery games are run by state governments and are monopolies. Because they do not allow commercial competition, the money made from lottery tickets goes directly into government programs. According to the NGISC report, in August 2004 there were forty state lotteries operating. Approximately 90% of the U.S. population lived in a state with an active lottery. Any adult physically living in a lottery state can purchase a lottery ticket.

The New York lottery was established in 1967 and generated $53.6 million in its first year. The lottery was popular enough that residents of neighboring states began buying tickets. By the end of the decade, twelve other states had their own lotteries and the lottery was firmly entrenched in the Northeast. The lottery was an effective way for governments to raise money without increasing taxes, and it attracted many Catholics, who were generally tolerant of gambling activities.

The practice of dividing property by lot has been around since ancient times. In the Old Testament, Moses is instructed to take a census of the people of Israel and divide land by lot. In ancient Rome, the emperors used lotteries to award property and slaves to worthy citizens. The ancient Greeks and Romans were among the first to use lottery games as a means of taxation, and the English word for lottery comes from the noun “fate”.

In colonial America, there were over 200 lotteries established between 1744 and 1776. The proceeds raised from these lotteries were used to build roads, libraries, colleges, canals, and bridges. Princeton and Columbia Universities had their own lotteries, and the University of Pennsylvania held its Academy Lottery in 1755. During the French and Indian Wars, several colonies used lotteries to fund projects and capital improvements. In 1747, the Connecticut legislature granted Yale a license to conduct a lottery worth PS3,200.

The NASPL Web site shows that approximately eighteen thousand retails sell lottery tickets. The largest percentages of lottery retailers are in Texas, California, and New York, with three-fourths of lottery outlets offering online services. In addition to convenience stores, other retailers include nonprofit organizations, service stations, restaurants, and newsstands. NASPL also reports that the lottery has increased in popularity in many states. This is a very encouraging sign for lottery operators.

A recent survey of lottery players revealed that 17 percent of lottery players play weekly or more often. A similar percentage play one to three times per month, while the rest play only once every few months. In South Carolina, lottery players are more likely to be middle-aged men who are economically middle class. If you’re looking to win big, it pays to play the lottery once a week. You can always pass on the winnings to another person. With so many jackpots, there’s bound to be one that will match your specific criteria.

A recent study at the University of Georgia’s Vinson Institute of Government Studies found a significant association between lottery availability and the prevalence of at-risk gambling, which is a category of gamblers who have a history of problem gambling. While this is true in most cases, the study found that lottery attendance was disproportionately beneficial to African-American and lower-income people. In other lottery studies, fewer than 1% of participants were at risk of problem gambling.