The History of the Lottery



The Lottery was invented as a means to generate money for a worthy cause. Many ancient documents record that the practice of drawing lots was popular in Europe in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The first lottery to be tied to the United States occurred in 1612 when King James I of England set up a lottery to provide funds for the colony of Jamestown, Virginia. Over the centuries, lotteries have been used by public and private organizations to raise funds for various projects, including towns, wars, colleges, and public-works projects.

According to the NASPL Web site, there are almost 186,000 retail outlets in the United States. The largest numbers of lottery retailers are located in California, Texas, and New York, with about three-quarters of lottery retailers offering online services. In 2004, nearly 90% of U.S. residents lived in a state where a lottery operated. In addition to convenience stores, other lottery outlets include nonprofit organizations, restaurants, bars, and newsstands.

There are three types of lottery games: multi-jurisdictional, four-digit, and multi-jurisdictional. Multi-jurisdictional games such as Powerball have a huge jackpot. A player may pass on a prize claim if he/she does not wish to continue playing. Lastly, there are games like sweepstakes and jackpots. These are games where winners pick numbers but do not have to purchase anything.