The History of the Lottery

The lottery is not a new concept. In fact, it was recorded in ancient documents as far back as 5000 years. In the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, lotteries were popular throughout Europe. In 1612, King James I of England created a lottery in order to raise funds for his new settlement in Jamestown, Virginia. During the 17th century, the lottery was used for many public and private purposes, including to fund towns, wars, colleges, and public-works projects.


The first recorded lottery slips were found in the Han Dynasty and date from between 205 and 187 BC. These were used to finance government projects, such as roads, canals, and courthouses. As early as the sixteenth century, lotteries were also used to raise revenue for public works, such as construction of roads and canals. During the American Revolution, the game was even used to finance wars. Whether it was raising funds for roads and canals, lotteries have a rich history.

In the eighteenth century, British colonists introduced lotteries to the United States. The early critics of lotteries attributed the newfound profits to sinful activities such as gambling. The result was a ban in ten states between 1844 and 1859. However, the popularity of the lottery made the lottery an increasingly popular way for the government to generate funds. By the mid-1800s, it was used as a source of funding for government projects such as courthouses, roads, and canals.