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The History of the Lottery

The History of the Lottery


Lotteries are often a source of income for state governments. The money raised is generally spent on public projects and programs. However, a few critics argue that lotteries encourage gambling behavior and promote other abuses.

Although the history of lotteries dates back thousands of years, it was not until the 19th century that lotteries became widespread in the United States. During this time, the money raised through lotteries financed many important institutions such as schools, colleges and universities.

Despite some negative publicity, lotteries have proved to be a remarkably popular way to raise money. Typically, people buy lottery tickets, select numbers and place bets. They are then randomly selected to win a prize. Depending on the lottery, players may be given the option to receive a lump sum or instalments of the prize.

Several states used lotteries to finance public projects during the colonial era. For example, in 1769, Col. Bernard Moore’s “Slave Lottery” advertised prizes such as slaves and land.

Lotteries facilitated financing of the construction of bridges, wharves and canals. In addition, money was often used to build libraries, fortifications and schools.

In the 18th century, several colonial governments introduced lotteries to fund the construction of university buildings. In 1755, the Academy Lottery financed the University of Pennsylvania. It also provided funds for the establishment of Princeton and Columbia Universities.

During the French and Indian Wars, several colonies held public lotteries to raise money for military, fortification and other public projects. There were hundreds of lotteries in colonial America between 1744 and 1776.