History of Lottery


Lottery is a game where people pay a small amount to have a chance to win a large sum of money. It is often used by state or national governments to raise funds for public usages, but it also has a long history as an entertainment activity and as a form of gambling. It is a very popular method of raising funds and, for this reason, it attracts both praise and criticism. Some of the criticism focuses on its potential to promote compulsive gambling, and others focuses on its regressive impact on lower income groups.

Various forms of lottery have existed throughout human history, including the distribution of land among the Israelites after Moses recorded their census in the Old Testament and the granting of prizes at Saturnalian dinners by Roman emperors. Modern examples include the use of lotteries for military conscription, commercial promotions in which property is given away by random procedure, and the selection of jury members from lists of registered voters.

The first public lotteries to offer tickets for sale with prizes in the form of money began in the Low Countries in the 15th century. They were aimed at raising funds for town fortifications and the poor, but they were very popular and by the 17th century had become widely accepted as mechanisms for “voluntary taxes”; for example George Washington sponsored a lottery in 1768 to raise money for the Continental Congress.