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How the Lottery Industry Got Started

The first known money lotteries occurred in the 15th century in the Low Countries. These public lotteries were held to raise money for the poor and for the upkeep of town fortifications. These lotteries were later used for various public-works projects and for raising funds for wars, colleges and other public purposes.

After the Civil War, southern states resorted to lotteries. The Louisiana lottery, for instance, gained widespread popularity in 1868. In exchange for permission to operate, the Louisiana lottery company agreed to pay $40,000 per year to charity hospitals for the next 25 years. The Louisiana lottery received favorable press and was popular across the country. It brought in ninety percent of its revenue from outside the state and returned a 48% profit to lottery operators.

According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, U.S. lotteries earned $44 billion in fiscal year 2003. This represents an increase of 6.6% over the previous year. The growth has continued throughout the last decade, and the U.S. lottery industry is thriving. The following table shows the amount of money that is raised through lottery games:

Lottery winnings are typically shared by multiple individuals. This allows a group to generate more media coverage than a solo lottery win, and enables more people to become familiar with lotteries. However, the pooling arrangements are not without pitfalls. If more than one person wins, disagreements may arise. However, these cases are rare.