History of Lottery and Gambling

The word lottery is derived from Dutch, meaning “fate”. Throughout history, lottery has been a source of funding for many public projects, including schools, colleges, bridges, libraries, fortifications and more.

Lotteries have been used to fund public works in the United States since the early 18th century. For instance, in 1768, George Washington financed a lottery for the construction of a road across the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In the 18th century, many colonies used lotteries to finance local militias, cannons for defense and fortifications, roads, canals, wharves and more. These lotteries were also often held in towns, as well.

Some of the earliest known lotteries are believed to have been held in the Roman Empire. However, these lotteries were more amusement than for material gain.

During the 17th century, lotteries were widespread in the Netherlands. Several towns held public lottery events to raise money for their communities.

In 1776, several lotteries operated in 13 colonies. The Continental Congress organized one to raise money for the Colonial Army. Other lotteries raised funds for the construction of public buildings and libraries, such as Princeton and Columbia Universities.

In the 18th century, some state legislatures outlawed gambling in general. But some states, such as New Hampshire, began to revive lotteries in the mid-1960s.

Despite their detractors, lotteries have continued to win broad public support. Public approval appears to rest on the idea that they help reduce the burden of taxes.

Lottery advocates argue that they are a “painless” revenue source, allowing taxpayers to spend their money on the public good. They also say that the lottery is an effective way to raise money during times of economic stress.