Lottery News @ STL.News
Lottery News @ STL.News

The lottery has become popular in the United States and has become an important social strategy to fund the operation of the states.  But what is the Lottery and when did it begin?

A lottery (LT) is a type of gambling that involves drawing numbers randomly for a prize.  While some governments ban lotteries, others support them to the point of organizing a state or national lottery.  There is a common practice of having some regulation of lottery.  Most commonly, there is a ban on selling LT tickets to minors.  Vendors must also be licensed to sell them.  LTs were popular in the United States and other countries in the 19th century.  However, in the early 20th century, most gambling forms, including sweepstakes and lotteries, were illegal in the United States, Europe, and many other countries.  This was true even after World War II.  As a way for governments to increase revenue, lotteries and casinos began to reappear in the 1960s.

There are many ways to play lotteries.  The prize could be cash or goods in a fixed amount.  This format presents a risk for the organizer if not enough tickets are sold.  The prize fund is usually a fixed percentage of the revenue.  This is a popular draw known as the “50-50”, where organizers promise that 50% of the revenue will go to the prize fund.  Numerous recent lotteries let purchasers choose the numbers on their lottery tickets, which can lead to multiple winners.

History of Lottery

Between 205 and 187 BC, keno slips from China’s Han Dynasty were the first to be recorded as a sign of an LT.  These lotteries are thought to have been used to finance large government projects such as the Great Wall of China.  The Chinese Book of Songs (2nd century BC.)  This is a reference to a game called “the drawing wood”, which, in context, seems to refer to the drawing of lots.

The Roman Empire hosted the first European lotteries.  They were primarily held for amusement at dinner parties.  Every guest would be given a ticket and the prizes were often expensive items like dinnerware.  Each ticket holder would have the chance to win something.  However, this type of LT was limited to the distribution of gifts by rich noblemen during Saturnalian revelries. The Roman Emperor Augustus organized the first lottery that offered tickets for sale.  The money was used to repair the City of Rome and the prizes were in the form of unrelated articles.

The U.S. has 44 states and three territories that have state lotteries.  Nearly all of these states and territories are part of consortiums that run regional games and the near-national Mega Millions and Powerball.  With a jackpot of US $1.5billion, Powerball’s January 13, 2016, draw set a new record for the biggest lottery jackpot in American history.

Legal lotteries began with the underground “numbers” game of the 1800s.  This was played out in “Policy shops”, where bettors chose numbers.  A report by a committee of the New York State Assembly in 1875 stated that policy playing was the lowest, most dangerous, and worst form of gambling.  It was popularized in Italian communities, known as the Italian lottery.  In Cuban communities, it was called bolita (“little balls”).  The game was popular in poor areas and could be purchased for as low as $0.01 by the beginning of the 20th century.  Low-income and working-class bettors found the game attractive because they could bet small amounts and bookies would lend credit to them.  Policy winners may also avoid income tax.  Although rates offered by different policy banks may vary, a typical payoff was 600 to 1.  The odds of winning were 1000 to 1, so the expected profit for racketeers is huge.

In 1934, Puerto Rico was home to the first modern US government-run lottery.  New Hampshire followed in 1964.

Ohio was the first state to offer a digital lottery option in 2018.  Linq3 developed the technology that allows players to play the LT from their smartphones.