A lottery is a gambling game where you pay a small sum of money for the chance to win a large amount of money. Some of these games are run by the government and others are run by private businesses.
Historically, a lottery has played an important role in funding both public and private ventures such as roads, churches, libraries, and colleges. It is also believed to have helped fund major government projects like the Great Wall of China.
History of the lottery
The first recorded signs of a lottery date back to 205 and 187 BC, in Chinese keno slips. These games were used to raise funds for public works, and were a significant part of life in the Han Dynasty.
Early America embraced lotteries, as the American historian Paul Cohen writes in his book The Lottery: A Cultural History of the United States (Wiley, 2014). These games were a way to raise funds for public works without taxing people.
Lotteries became popular in Europe as well, with the first ones in France being introduced by Francis I in the 1500s. In England, Queen Elizabeth I chartered the first lottery in 1567 to fund fortifications and town services.
When budgetary crises arose in the late twentieth century, many states began looking for ways to raise revenue without increasing taxes or cutting public services. For some, the lottery became a perfect solution; they were able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars by selling tickets for a relatively low price.