What is a Lottery?

A lottery is a form of gambling in which multiple people purchase tickets for a small price to have a chance of winning large sums of money, typically running into millions of dollars. The winner is selected randomly through a drawing.

History & Examples

Lottery originated as an entertainment event in the Roman Empire, primarily at dinner parties. Each guest would receive a ticket and be assured of winning something, often fancy items such as dinnerware. It was considered a form of gambling, but not a legal one.

In the 15th century, public lotteries began to be held in various towns to raise funds for town fortifications and charity. The town records of Ghent, Utrecht, and Bruges all contain lottery records dating back to that time.

The earliest known lottery that offered tickets for sale with prizes in the form of money was held during the reign of Augustus Caesar to repair the city of Rome. In 1776, Benjamin Franklin organized a lottery to raise funds for cannons to defend Philadelphia against British forces during the American Revolution.

The first recorded state-sponsored lottery in the United States was held in New Hampshire in 1964, and now 37 states and the District of Columbia have lottery programs. Despite their popularity, lotteries are seen as a form of gambling that should be avoided. They also are subject to significant tax implications and should not be used to fund personal expenses. In fact, many people go bankrupt after winning the lottery.