Categories: Gambling

The History of Lottery Gambling


Lotteries are games of chance where a person buys a ticket and hopes to win a prize. The prize may be in the form of cash or other goods. Usually, the odds are better for players who subscribe to a lottery syndicate.

In the US, lotteries are a legal form of gambling. They are regulated by the State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. A few states permit online lottery ticket purchasing. Purchasing tickets online is not widespread, however.

Lotteries began in the US in the early 1700s. During the French and Indian Wars, several colonies used lotteries to raise money for their war efforts. For example, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts used a lottery to help fund an expedition against Canada. Other colonies used lotteries to finance libraries, schools, bridges, canals and other public projects.

Several governments also endorse or regulate lotteries. Some of these include the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and New Hampshire. Many of these jurisdictions operate state-wide lotteries. However, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi and Nevada do not.

Lotteries are played in the United States in forty-five states and the District of Columbia. When 2021, these jurisdictions will participate in the MegaMillions and Powerball lotteries. Online ticket purchasing is allowed in all but seven of these jurisdictions. Despite these restrictions, a number of Americans have enjoyed the thrills of purchasing lottery tickets on line.

During the colonial era, there were hundreds of lotteries. Newspaper ads from this period indicate that many of these lotteries raised funds for various public purposes. Depending on the particular jurisdiction, the amount of taxes withheld may vary. Those withholdings are based on the value of the investments involved. Moreover, some jurisdictions allow a tax-free payout of prizes.

Lotteries were also popular in the Netherlands in the 17th century. Many towns held public lotteries to raise money for town fortifications. Similarly, some lotteries were private to raise money for the Virginia Company of London. King James I authorized the English lottery in 1612.

The first known European lottery was held in the Roman Empire. During Saturnalian revels, wealthy noblemen gave out prizes of fancy dinnerware to the winners. This game of chance is referred to in the Chinese Book of Songs. It was called “drawing of lots”. There are records of at least one lottery in China dated between 205 and 187 BC.

Lotteries are played throughout the world. Unlike in the United States, many countries do not tax the winnings or the purchase of the lottery tickets. Countries such as France, Germany, and Italy do not tax the winner’s income. Also, Canada, Australia, and Ireland do not impose a personal income tax.

As of October 2017, the State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency has a records management program. Records Officers are responsible for liaison with the Department of General Services and State Archives. Creative Services handles the production of lottery advertising materials. Information Technology provides technical assistance to the Agency. Since November 2015, Information Technology has been a subunit of the Administration, Finance, and Operations Division.

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