History of the Lottery


Lotteries are a popular way of raising money. They can be used to finance colleges, parks, and other public projects. Some states have several different lottery games to choose from.

Originally, lotteries were a form of gambling. Ancient Roman emperors reportedly used lotteries to give away property. In medieval times, towns in Flanders held public lotteries to raise money for poor and fortifications.

Eventually, a private lottery became common. A popular dinner entertainment in ancient Rome was the apophoreta, a game of chance.

By the 1500s, the French had begun to adopt the lottery. It was a popular amusement among wealthy noblemen during Saturnalian revels. Francis I of France authorized lots to be held in several cities.

In England, private lotteries became common. Alexander Hamilton wrote that the public would be willing to pay trifling sums for the opportunity to gain considerable gains.

Several colonies held lotteries during the French and Indian Wars. In 1755, the Academy Lottery was organized to help finance the University of Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts also used the lottery for an “Expedition against Canada” in 1758.

Some historians believe that the first European lotteries were held during the Roman Empire. These were organized by emperors and were primarily amusement at dinner parties.

In the 15th century, the first modern European lotteries were held in Flanders and Burgundy. The earliest known records are a record dated 9 May 1445 at L’Ecluse, in which the town held a lottery of 4,304 tickets to raise money for walls and fortifications.