Lottery History in 2 Minutes
Travel the world of lottery history in just 2 minutes flat!
Incredibly the lottery, or lotto, dates back easily as long ago as 1530. Back when the Italians referred to it as "La Lotto de Firenza". Or Florence as we call it today.
The game itself wasn't that different to the one you and I both play today.
The 'good citizens' of the land excitedly bought their tickets. Then the games prizes depended on how much money had been taken. What was left over was then used by the state for projects such as repairing roads or for developing schools. Something that still happens today in some US States.
The Fun Spread Fast
This new game made paying for necessary services much more bearable - a lot more fun than taxes! So it rapidly spread across Europe.
Just like today, our ancestors got very excited about the prospect of winning a big pot of cash.
You've Won The Jackpot - Here's Your Tapestry!
The first English lottery was set up by no less than Queen Elizabeth I.
There were 400,000 tickets up for grabs. Somewhat less than the UK Lotto sells now on a typical Saturday, but still a surprisingly large amount.
The prizes were varied. You could win cash as usual, or you might even find yourself with a exquisite tapestry with which to adorn your castle banqueting chamber wall.
The Lottery Heads To America
A lot of Americans would be surprised to find that the lottery wasn't created in the USA. After all, it is one of the most popular US hobbies.
But it was actually the European settlers who had already experienced the lottery countries across Europe that brought the game with them.
It was England's King James I who also started a game to help out America's first British colony in Jamestown, Virginia.
And given the churches views on gambling, it's interesting to see that in the very first draw of the King James I lottery, 2 out of the 3 tickets that won had been bought by Anglican churches! That should help fix the leaky roof...
Longest Running Lottery Game?
The award for the oldest lottery that is still running today goes to the Netherlands.
It originally launched back in 1726, and is still going strong.
The Underground 'Numbers Game'
The legal games were one thing of course - but illegal lotteries were quite another.
Corruption in private run lotteries became widespread, and Governments were unable to regulate them effectively. New York was first in the 1820s, but by 1878 all US states except Louisiana had prohibited lotteries! A very different world to today.
Louisiana survived until 1905 when the US Supreme Court reinforced police powers to control gambling.
Not until 1964 did New Hampshire create the first state lottery in lottery history - tied to horse races to sidestep the anti-lottery laws!
It was followed by New York 3 years later, and from there it snowballed with virtually every US state and most countries in Europe and indeed across the world now running their own lottery.
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