Lotteries are popular around the world. Several states and private players offer many games that provide money and prizes to winners.
Around 60% of adults play the lottery at least once every year. People also take to live games for generous rewards.
However, when did the lottery start? How did it become so popular?
The lottery has its humble beginning in Biblical times. It transformed through the eras to the modern form we see around us.
Let’s explore the exciting history of the lottery in our blog.
The Beginning of the Lottery
The lottery is mentioned in the Old Testament several times. The Lord gives Moses the responsibility to perform a census to divide the land among people in Israel.
These examples appear in verses numbers 26:55-56, according to the Britannica.
The lottery was popular even among the Romans. Nero, Augustus, and other emperors relied on the lottery to reward prizes and enslaved people in feasts. They were highly common in the Saturnalian feasts.
Moreover, a form of the lottery was prevalent in ancient Roman dinners. It was called the “apophoreta,” meaning “what you carry back home.”
The host gave out wooden pieces with signs to guests. After the dinner, a draw determined the winners.
They would receive prizes to take back home.
The lottery was used for several other purposes in ancient times. For example, they were helpful for military drafting or choosing jury members from a list of voters.
The Rise of the Modern Lottery
Over the ages, the lottery penetrated several countries across the world. In Europe, it was popular for raising funds to build defenses or help the poor.
This form of aid collection was common in regions such as Flanders and Burgundy, as per Britannica.
The first commercial lottery with money rewards took place in 1476 in northern Italy. The House of Este conducted the first public lottery in the city of Modena.
Soon, an enterprise called Genoa lottery picked up the model and made it famous.
In England, Queen Elizabeth I conducted a lottery to collect funds for repairs and public initiatives in 1566. The Virginia Company also collected money via a lottery in 1612 to settle property with the King’s permission.
The lottery was the preferred method to raise money in England for many decades. It suffered a ban for a few years but remained prevalent till 1826.
Italy held its first national lottery in 1863 after being united. It had weekly drawings and generated significant revenue for the government.
The Italian Lotto is the foundation for the modern lotteries popular today.
The Evolution of Lottery in the US and Around the World
The Continental Congress proposed to collect funds through lotteries for the American Revolution in 1776. However, the proposal never saw the light of day.
However, small-scale public lotteries were still popular to generate revenues for the state. They even contributed money to establish countless American colleges.
The list includes
- Brown University
- King’s College
- Dartmouth College
Additionally, several private companies sold products and properties using lotteries. It allowed them to earn more than selling to individual customers.
Soon, the lottery became popular commercially with the entry of more private players. The state of Louisiana conducted the most famous lottery for 25 years, starting in 1869.
However, private companies abused the lottery system over the years. A bad reputation built up around the activity, which led to its downfall.
New Hampshire revived the lottery in 1964 by conducting a state draw. Many other states, such as New York and New Jersey, joined the list in 1966 and 1970.
Today, almost all US states run some form of a public lottery. Only five states don’t sell any lottery tickets:
Most states keep a part of the profits to spend on public purposes. We can also buy lottery tickets from various places, including online vending machines.
The lottery began to distribute property and assets in Biblical times. It stayed popular till modern times to raise funds for various causes. Commercial lottery games flourished in Europe in places like Italy and England. The US nationalized its lottery system after the initial years to generate revenue for the state.