The Future of the Lottery



A lot of money can be made with a lottery. It can be used to buy housing, secure a kindergarten placement, or win large cash prizes. The lottery is even used in the sports world, with the National Basketball Association holding a lottery for the pick of college basketball talent. Drawing numbers to decide winners is as old as the Old Testament. A lot of ancient documents refer to drawing lots as a way to distribute land among the Israelites. Lottery-style games were also used in Roman times to distribute slaves and property to citizens. The first modern lottery dates from 1612 when King James I of England created a lottery for the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. Since then, lotteries have been used to raise money for public-works projects, wars, and towns.

In the United States, lotteries are operated by state governments. These monopolies use the money raised from lottery sales to support government programs. As of August 2004, forty states operated lotteries. About 90% of the U.S. population lived in a state with a lottery. A lottery ticket can be purchased by any adult physically present in a state with a lottery. Almost 186,000 lottery retailers are listed on the NASPL Web site.

A lot of money is made from the lottery. Early lottery games were simple raffles and required weeks to receive results. Today, the lottery industry has moved beyond this traditional form of game. Increasingly, consumers are demanding more exciting games with faster payouts, better odds, and more betting options. The lottery industry has taken note of this demand and has responded by developing new lottery games with higher stakes. However, the future of lotteries is uncertain.