History of the Lottery


Whether you’re interested in winning big or playing for fun, the lottery is a great way to help fund charitable causes. Lotteries are legal in more than 100 countries worldwide. In the United States, lottery sales reached over $91 billion in fiscal year 2019.

The first recorded lottery dates back to 205 BC in ancient China. The Chinese Book of Songs mentions the game as “drawing of wood and lots.” In the Han Dynasty, lottery slips were used to fund important government projects.

During the 17th century, lotteries became popular in the Netherlands. They raised funds for a variety of public projects, including bridges, roads, colleges, libraries, and town fortifications.

Lotteries were also popular in colonial America. Between 1744 and 1776, there were over 200 lotteries held in colonial America. Many of these lotteries raised money for religious orders. In the early 19th century, private lotteries were legalized in the United States.

Several colonies used lotteries during the French and Indian Wars. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts raised money with a lottery for the “Expedition against Canada” in 1758. In 1755, the Academy Lottery financed the University of Pennsylvania.

Lotteries were also a popular source of entertainment at dinner parties. In 1774, Madame de Pompadour founded the Loterie de L’Ecole Militaire. In the late 18th century, lotteries funded 15 churches in Paris. In the early 19th century, the Virginia Company of London held many private lotteries to raise money for its settlement in America at Jamestown.