History of the Lottery


Throughout history, people have used lotteries to fund different public projects. This includes colleges, roads, bridges, libraries and fortifications.

The earliest known lotteries are recorded in the records of the Roman Empire. The emperor Augustus organized a lottery for the citizens of Rome. The money raised went to repairs for the City of Rome.

According to an Old Testament scripture, Moses was instructed to divide the land of Israel by lot. The bettor chooses a number of numbers and pays a small sum for the chance to win a prize.

In modern times, lotteries are still popular. They are simple to operate and can be used to raise funds for good causes. In many states, lotteries are run by the state or city government. They also are used to select jurors from registered voters.

The first modern European lotteries were held in the 15th century in Flanders and Burgundy. They were held to raise money for fortifications and the poor.

Several colonies in the United States used lotteries to fund fortifications, militias, college buildings and bridges. Some of these lotteries were private. Others were run by the government.

In the United States, private lotteries were common in the 17th and 18th centuries. Alexander Hamilton wrote that people would spend trifling sums for a chance to win substantial amounts.

Although they have long been criticized as addictive forms of gambling, financial lotteries have been very popular. In 2007, a rare lottery ticket bearing the signature of George Washington sold for $15,000.

The earliest documented European lottery is the Lotto de Genera, which took place in the Italian city-state of Modena. It was held in the year 1445. The record describes a lottery of 4,304 tickets.