The History of Lottery Gambling

Lotteries have been a popular form of gambling for centuries. Early lotteries financed canals, bridges, fortifications, libraries, colleges and universities. They were particularly popular in the early colonies.

Some countries were prohibited from holding lotteries until after World War II. The United States, however, did not outlaw most forms of gambling until the late 1800s.

The first known public lottery in the Western world was held during the reign of Augustus Caesar. Funds were raised for municipal repairs in Rome.

During the 18th century, several colonies used lotteries to finance fortifications, roads and bridges. Lottery proceeds were seen as an effective alternative to tax increases.

In colonial-era America, there were 200 lotteries between 1744 and 1776. Benjamin Franklin sponsored one to raise money for cannons in Philadelphia. Others supported the “Expedition against Canada” in 1758.

Alexander Hamilton believed that a lottery was an appropriate function for a state. He argued that people would be willing to gamble trifling sums for a chance of gaining a considerable amount.

Although there are no conclusive findings on the extent to which lotteries promote addictive gambling behavior, the negative impact on problem gamblers is a serious issue. It is important to remember that a great majority of lottery revenues come from low-income neighborhoods.

Critics of lotteries argue that their continued existence is a regressive tax on lower-income groups. Some state governments have even outlawed them.

Despite these negative impacts, lotteries are often very popular. Studies have shown that 60 percent of adults play at least once a year.

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