Lotteries weren't always a part of the public imagination. In fact, they're probably younger than you expect. Here is a condensed history of lotteries.

A Condensed History of Lotteries

Have you always wondered about the history of lotteries? While the American lottery doesn’t have a lengthy history, lotteries have a deep history internationally. From funding government projects to doling out big jackpots to lucky winners, lotteries have grown into a big industry today.

Read on to learn more about the history of lotteries!  


Travel to Ancient Greece for the First Lottery

It might be surprising that ancient Greece is considered by many to be the site of the first lottery. Instead of using a voting system to determine leadership roles, the Greeks used a lottery. In the 6th century BC, the lottery was open to anyone who met the criteria to become a leader.

While this might not sound like the proper approach for a democratic community, the ancient Greeks found it to be a fairer method. After all, no one could buy their way into office!

Rome Inflicted Punishment with Lotteries

Not all lotteries were used for personal gain. In fact, many early lotteries helped civic functions — or determined how to inflict punishment. This was the case in ancient Rome. 

For soldiers who were not in good standing, lotteries were not a positive experience. Any soldier who had committed a crime would be entered into a lottery. The winning soldier would lose his life!

Renaissance-Era Lotteries Proved Popular

Going back to the 1500s, lotteries offered opportunities for personal profit and election strategies. Like the ancient Greeks, the Romans of the Renaissance used elections as an exciting way to determine leaders.

But at the same time, lotteries rewarded winners with cash as well as goods, like jewelry or property. Additionally, lotteries could help fund civic projects for bridges and buildings!

Early America Saw Lottery Scandal Issues

While the American lottery started with a firm foundation in the era of Benjamin Franklin, it hit some roadblocks in the next century. Questions about the morality of lotteries and a few scandals pushed lotteries off track. 

Notably, the Lousiana State Lottery Company was known for its shady business practices in the 1800s. This included using its money to get politicians to behave in a manner favorable to the company.

Ultimately, restrictions forced the Lottery Company’s hand. And the state of Louisiana did not have lotteries again until 1991!

The History of Lotteries Evolved in the 20th Century

After a bumpy start, the history of lottery in America gained tracking in the 1900s with the New Hampshire lottery in 1964. From there, states began offering innovative approaches to ticket printing. And some states even began offering multi-state lotteries.

And with the emergence of digital technology, more people can try their luck. As this link demonstrates, you can find lottery results with the click of a button.

Learn More about Lotteries

The history of lotteries is rich and dates back to biblical times.  In the past 50 years, retail kiosks, video lottery terminals, and other innovations have taken lotteries to the next level. You even can try your luck using an app! 

For more unique topics to keep you informed, check back for new articles.

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