The History of the Lottery


The first documented drawing of lots to decide who owned land is recorded in a wide variety of ancient documents. By the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, this practice was widespread across Europe. In the United States, lottery funding first became tied to a government project in 1612 when King James I of England established a lottery to provide funds to the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. The lottery became a popular way for private and public organizations to raise money for wars, colleges, public-works projects, and towns.

Early American lotteries

During the early years of the American Republic, the Continental Congress used lottery funds to fund the Colonial Army and a variety of public projects. Alexander Hamilton, a leading political figure, argued that a small risk for a large gain was a sound idea. After all, most people would rather have a small chance at a big prize than win a large sum but not gain any profit. In addition, taxes were never popular sources of funding.

Multistate lotteries

NASPL, or the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, reports that in FY 2006, U.S. lottery sales totaled $56.4 billion, an increase of 9% over FY 2005. The top three states, New York, Massachusetts, and Florida, accounted for more than half of the nation’s total lottery sales. Of these, 16 had annual sales of more than $1 billion. The rest had sales under that threshold.

Scratch-off tickets

There is nothing quite like winning big on the Lottery scratch-off ticket. These tickets appeal to the reward center of our brains. Dopamine is released when we recognize a reward opportunity and amplifies the memories associated with winning. Some people even seek out this feeling by playing games of chance. Then there are those who do it purely for the fun of it. Whatever the case, scratch-off tickets can be a great way to get your fill of a positive feeling without risking too much.

Lottery syndicates

Lottery syndicates are a way to increase your chances of winning by purchasing multiple tickets at once. By purchasing these tickets, you will be sharing the costs and profits equally. The main benefit of lottery syndicates is that they are easier to create than traditional clubs. Creating a lottery syndicate is easier than ever since ticket purchasing has moved online. You will be able to pool together a group of people who are all interested in boosting their winnings.

Tax-free winnings

If you have won the lottery, you may have wondered whether you can keep all of your money tax-free. You can choose to pay your tax obligations over the years, or you can simply accept the winnings and keep them in your bank account, and let the money grow tax-free. In either case, you can keep your prize, and take the money you want in installments over the next 30 years. In addition, donating some of your lottery winnings to a non-profit may allow you to qualify for itemized deductions, and bring you into a lower tax bracket.