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Lottery History


First Lotteries


Lotteries have existed for centuries. Archaeologists unearthed lottery style games in Ancient Egypt. Lotteries became popular in France in the 1400s.

One of the first lotteries was in 1445 when the widow of the Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck held a raffle to dispose of his remaining paintings.

The first lottery with prize money was in Florence, Italy in 1530. The word lottery probably derives from the Italian word ‘lotto’, which means, destiny or ‘fate’.

This was followed by a lottery in England in 1568 in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. 400,000 tickets went on sale for prizes of cash, tapestry and china.

Lottery proceeds helped the rebuilding after the war. Lotteries became widespread in the US during the 1800s. However many were unregulated and corrupt. The State of New York became the first to ban lotteries and eventually all states except Louisiana banned them.


Lottery in America


Over the next two centuries lotteries became very popular all over Europe. The longest running lottery, still played today, is probably in the Netherlands. Their lottery began in 1727.

The Virginia Lottery was the first in America in 1612. The proceeds were ploughed back into community projects.

Lotteries quickly gained popularity in the US. They helped to fund the Colonial Army’s fight for independence from the British in the Revolutionary War.

The first modern State run lottery in the US was in 1964 in New Hampshire. There are 38 State run lotteries.

The first scratch card lottery, the ‘Instant Game’, commencing in 1974, became hugely popular, as it offered something never done before:  instant winnings.

Powerball is a variation on the same theme, It  began in 1988 and was known as Lotto America. The name were changed to Powerball in 1992 and the first draw was held on April 22 of that year.

Lotteries now


Lotteries are now an essential funder for education, care of the elderly and many other community services in the United States.  200 million Americans have a local lottery. Lotteries in the USA are a major employer, with over a quarter of a million people employed in the industry. Lotteries provide additional revenue for thousands of retailers.


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