History of the Lottery


Throughout history, lotteries have been used to raise money for a variety of purposes. These include college tuition, road construction, and bridges. During the French and Indian Wars, some colonies used lotteries to raise money for their troops.

One of the first recorded lotteries in Europe was held in the Roman Empire, with wealthy noblemen giving away prizes during Saturnalian revels. The Roman Emperor Augustus organized a lottery in which each guest received a ticket.

In the 17th century, several colonies used lotteries to raise money for the Colonial Army. In 1758, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts raised money for an expedition against Canada by holding a lottery.

In the 1740s, lotteries were used to raise money for Princeton and Columbia Universities. In the 1760s, a “Slave Lottery” was held by Col. Bernard Moore. This lottery advertised land and slaves as prizes.

The Roman emperors reportedly used lotteries to give away property. Other lotteries raised money for public projects such as town fortifications, libraries, and canals.

Lotteries were also used to raise money for poor people in the Netherlands. In 1737, the value of florins was equivalent to $170,000 in 2014. In 2007, a rare lottery ticket bearing the signature of George Washington sold for $15,000.

In the U.S., there are 45 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands where you can play the lottery. In addition, there are several multi-state lotteries that offer jackpots of several million dollars. Purchasing a ticket is a small expense that can add up over time.