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History of the Lottery

During the early years of the American Revolution, many colonial colonies used lotteries to raise money for fortifications, militia, libraries, roads and canals. Some governments outlawed lotteries, but others endorsed them.

Some states have joined together to hold multi-state lotteries, which allow jackpots of several million dollars. These are usually organized so that a percentage of the proceeds is donated to a good cause.

The first recorded lottery in Europe was held during the Roman Empire. A number of wealthy noblemen distributed tickets with prizes of money or goods of unequal value. The Chinese Book of Songs mentions a game of chance as “drawing of lots”.

The earliest recorded lottery in the United States was held by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1758 for an “Expedition against Canada”. A record of 9 May 1445 at L’Ecluse in France mentions a lottery to raise funds for fortifications and walls.

In the Netherlands, lottery tickets were sold in the seventeenth century. A record from the town of Ghent indicates that lotteries were still being held at that time.

The Roman Empire also reportedly used lotteries to distribute property and slaves. Records from the city of Rome in 177 show that the lottery was used to repair the city.

In the United States, some governments subsidize the lottery, while others outlaw it. In some states, the lottery is run by the state government. Those who win a lottery are either paid in a lump sum or an annuity.