During the 17th and 18th centuries, lotteries were common in various parts of Europe. Their primary function was to raise funds for public works. They financed the construction of roads, canals, and bridges. They also collected funds for poor people.
The first recorded European lotteries are believed to have been held during the Roman Empire. In addition, there are records of lotteries being held during the French and Indian Wars. During these wars, several colonies used lotteries to raise funds for their war efforts.
In 1758, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts raised money for its “Expedition against Canada” by holding a lottery. In 1769, Col. Bernard Moore held a “Slave Lottery,” advertising land and slaves as prizes.
Lotteries were not widely popular during the colonial era. Many people thought that they were a hidden tax. However, by the 1970s, the lottery had become firmly entrenched in the Northeast.
Lottery sales increased by 9% in 2006 compared to 2005. Each state reported higher sales than in the previous year. The 17 states with lottery sales of more than $1 billion were: Louisiana, Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Jersey.
Most lotteries are operated by state governments. Several lotteries are partnered with sports franchises. They have many brand name promotions, often featuring famous celebrities and cartoon characters.
Lottery sales in the United States increased from $52.6 billion in FY 2005 to $56.4 billion in FY 2006. The winning odds are one in 292.2 million.