The first recorded lottery with money prizes was held in the 15th century in the Low Countries. The purpose was to raise money for the poor and for various public projects. The lottery proved to be popular and was considered a way to pay for state taxes. The first French lottery, called the Loterie Royale, was founded in 1539. This lottery raised over £100,000 in just six years. It was later banned in France, but was tolerated in other countries.
The early lottery in the United States was a popular way to raise funds for the American Revolution. In the 1760s, George Washington conducted a lottery to finance the construction of Mountain Road in Virginia. Other early American politicians supported the lottery, including Benjamin Franklin. And in Boston, John Hancock ran a lottery to raise funds for the reconstruction of Faneuil Hall. However, the lottery’s popularity faded after the Revolution and was eventually prohibited in the United States.
The practice of dividing property by lot dates back to ancient times. In the Old Testament, Moses was told to take a census of the Israelites, which included drawing lots for land. The Roman emperors also used lotteries to distribute property and slaves. In ancient Rome, lotteries were an important source of entertainment at dinner parties, and apophoreta was the Greek word for “carry home.”