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The History of the Lottery

The History of the Lottery


The lottery is a large and popular form of entertainment that brings in billions of dollars every year. Its proceeds are spent on public sector programs. Mega Millions and Powerball are among the largest drivers of consumer spending in the U.S., with a total of $81.6 billion in sales in 2019.

In 1890, the state of Colorado began running the lottery. In the 1920s, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, South Dakota, and Washington state also had lotteries. In the United States, sales of lottery tickets rose slightly during the same period, with five states reporting declines and nine reporting increases. The most recent statistics show that the lottery in California is the second-highest earner, after Florida. However, the lottery industry in New Mexico continues to experience a lack of growth.

Despite the high percentage of winning tickets, lotteries still have expenses associated with their organization. The total value of prizes is the money left over after all expenses are deducted. Promoters profit on a percentage of the pool. While big lotteries may pay out huge prizes, many participants do not think the payouts are high enough to make it worthwhile to play. That’s one reason why lotteries have a huge popularity among people.

Early lottery systems have their roots in the ancient world. In 1760s, George Washington ran a lottery to raise funds for the Mountain Road in Virginia. Franklin also advocated the lottery, and later supported the use of the proceeds to pay for cannons during the Revolutionary War. In Boston, John Hancock conducted a lottery to raise money for the rebuilding of Faneuil Hall. In 1832, the Boston Mercantile Journal reported that there were as many as 420 lotteries in eight states.