The word lottery has a rich history. Throughout the Middle Ages, public lotteries were common in the Low Countries to raise funds for poor and needy citizens. These early lotteries were so popular that they were considered painless taxation. The first documented lottery dates back to the 15th century in Flanders. Two years earlier, advertisements had been printed for the first English state lottery. It’s unclear whether the Dutch word lottery was derived from the Latin word loteria, which means “fate.”
States began operating lotteries in the early nineteenth century. Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, and Oregon started their lottery in 1890. By the early 1970s, the lottery had spread to twelve states and was widespread throughout the Northeast. In fact, nearly 90% of the U.S. population lived in a state with a lottery. In many states, lottery regulations were strictly enforced, though the amount of oversight was varied.
In 2003, 75 lotteries were operating in Europe, accounting for forty to forty percent of all world lottery sales. The top five were Spain, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, according to Scientific Games Corporation. In 2004, these countries joined forces to form the Euro Millions lottery. The United Kingdom and Spain have the largest number of lotteries. And the numbers of players are steadily rising. With more countries joining the lottery, the stakes have never been higher.
The first lottery was conducted in 1760 by George Washington to fund the construction of Mountain Road in Virginia. Benjamin Franklin, another early American, favored the lottery and supported it for paying for cannons during the Revolutionary War. John Hancock, a Boston merchant, also ran a lottery to rebuild Faneuil Hall. However, according to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission’s report from 1999, most colonial-era lotteries failed to meet the intended goals.
Some opponents of the lottery use economic arguments to promote it. In the long run, lotteries help the states earn more money and contribute to state programs. Additionally, they’re economically beneficial to small businesses and larger corporations that provide advertising and computer services. And finally, the lottery is cheap entertainment. And, of course, most of us don’t have the money to gamble, so why not indulge in some fun? And what’s the worst that can happen?
The New Jersey Lottery Commission, for example, announced a scratch game prize of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Another lotto, in Missouri, gave away sixty trips to Las Vegas with $500 in spending money. As with any lottery, winning tickets are subject to federal and state income taxes. However, the prizes vary widely. If you’re looking for something different, scratching out the ticket is an excellent idea. It might just be the ticket you’ve been looking for.
A lottery’s revenue is split between prize payouts, state profits and lottery retailers. The vast majority of lottery sales in the U.S. are paid to winners. Administrative costs are less than one percent. Retailers receive 5% to 8% of the total sales as commissions and bonuses. The state keeps the remaining 30 percent to 40%. And, if you’re lucky enough to win the lottery, you’ll probably win a lot.