History of Lotto
1st Century B.C.
- China & Rome
100 B.C.: The
Hun Dynasty in China created keno. Funds raised by lotteries were used
for defense, primarily to finance construction of the Great Wall of
100 - 44 B. C.: 1) Forms of lotteries date back to Augustus Caesar. Ceasar had a
public lottery to raise funds for the restoration of Rome. 2) There are references
to lotteries in the bible. The Bible desrcibes casting lots to divide up
100 B.C. through
the 17th century: China and European countries used lotteries to
finance defense (like the Great Wall in China); fund armies; build
chapels, almshouses, canals and port facilities; and to replenish royal
15th Century - Belgium
1446: In one of the
first recorded European lotteries, the widow of the Flemish painter Jan
Van Eyck holds a raffle to dispose of his remaining paintings.
were held in Belgium to build chapels, almshouses, canals and port
16th Century - Italy, France & England
1515: Six names were
drawn for election to the Senate in Genoa, Italy; later the names were
changed to numbers. The word "lottery" is believed to come
from the Italian word "lotto", meaning destiny or fate.
1530: Florence, Italy held a "Number Lottery" with
1539: King Francis I
of France authorized a lottery to replenish depleted funds in the
treasury. Many of these funds had been flowing to foreign lotteries.
1567: Queen Elizabeth I establishes the first English state
lottery. Prizes include cash, plate, and tapestry, with 400,000 tickets
offered for sale.
17th Century - London & North America
18th Century - America & Europe
Benjamin Franklin used lotteries to finance cannons for the
Revolutionary War. John Hancock operated a lottery to rebuild historic
Faneuil Hall in Boston. George Washington operated a lottery to finance
construction of the Mountain Road, which opened westward expansion from
Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, $80,000 in debt at the end of his life, used
a lottery to dispose of the bulk of his property.
The Netherlands formed what is now the oldest lottery still
A lottery is held in England for the establishment of the British
Lotteries were authorized to raise money for the Colonial
Louis XV founded the Loterie Royale of the Military School (later on
Saint_Cyr) in France. With the advent of this lottery, other
lotteries were outlawed and the funds were to be used to reduce the
State's debts. The King thus created a monopoly, which became the
forerunner of the Loterie Nationale.
In the United States, lotteries were most active during the period following the
adoption of the Constitution and prior to the establishment of effective
means of local taxation and the wave of anti_lottery reform in the 1830s.
Before 1790, America had only three incorporated banks. Therefore,
lotteries were standard sources for public and private financing.
to the Civil War: From 1790 until the lottery
prohibition movement succeeded, Lotteries established and funded
numerous civic improvements and educational institutions. Fifty colleges, 300 schools and 200
churches were erected with lottery proceeds. Most notably, universities
such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia were funded by lotteries.
19th Century - Height of Popularity
1905: The U.S.
Supreme Court reaffirmed the states' use of police powers to control
gambling, effectively ending the Louisiana Lottery and other gambling in
the U.S. No state was directly involved in the operation of a gambling
enterprise, and lotteries were prohibited in most states by
constitutional provisions for the next 60 years.
1912: "Totalizator" was
legalized, making racetracks the only legal betting place in Canada.
1917: The Queensland State Lottery
of Australia was the first lottery to start operations in the 20th
1930: Irish Sweepstakes were
launched with great success in the American and Canadian markets because
of the abolition of lotteries in these countries.
1964: The New
Hampshire Legislature created the state lottery, the first legal lottery
in this century; it was labeled a "Sweepstakes" and tied to
horse races to avoid the 70_year_old federal antilottery statutes.
1967: New York
became the second state to attempt a lottery.
to the Criminal Code of Canada legalized gambling and gave provinces the
authority to operate lottery schemes and casinos and to license
charitable or religious organizations to carry out specified lottery
1970: New Jersey
started a state lottery. Tickets were 50 cents for a weekly drawing.
Manitoba and Quebec began the first modern Canadian lotteries.
1971: 1) Led by
New Jersey, which in its first fiscal year sold close to $73 million in
tickets, lottery sales nationwide surpassed the $100 million mark for
the first time. 2) Automated Wagering implemented the world's first
on-line system in New Jersey.
1973: 1) The Olympic Lottery Corporation of Canada received its
charter and began selling tickets to provide funding for the 1976
Olympics in Montreal. The provinces of Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick,
Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Quebec, as well as the Northwest
Territories, participated in the Olympic Lottery. 2)
Fiscal year sales for all lotteries surpassed $500 million. 3)
Scientific Games developed the first secure instant ticket.
1974: 1) Massachusetts
offered the first scratch-off ticket. 2) The provinces of Manitoba,
Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, plus the Yukon, formed the
Western Canada Lottery Corporation.
Interprovincial Lottery Corporation was created through an act of the
Ontario Legislature, and shortly after was federally incorporated with
the western provinces.
1975: 1) Federal
law was amended to allow state lotteries to advertise on radio and TV.
2) New Jersey introduced a statewide, on-line network of several hundred
Clerk Activated Terminals (CATs) implemented by General Instrument (now
1976: 1) The
Delaware State Lottery began taking bets on National Football League
games (called the Delaware Sports Lottery). The NFL lost a legal battle
to ban this type of wagering. The Sports Lottery was abandoned after 14
weeks. 2) Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward
Island formed the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. 3) Lottery sales
surpassed $1 billion for the first time.
1978: 1) Both
New York and Massachusetts introduced off_line lotto, a European player
selection game in which the player selects six numbers between 1 and 30.
2) Quebec joined the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation.
Atlantic provinces joined the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation, thus
creating a true nationwide lottery in Canada.
Lotto, the first multi-state lottery, linked the state lotteries of
Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Illinois Lottery introduced the first instant game with the concept of
qualifying "entry" tickets for a grand prize drawing. 2) North
Dakota becomes the first state to vote against starting a state lottery.
1988: 1) Keno
was introduced by the New York Lottery. 2) The
Multi-State Lottery Association began with Oregon, Iowa, Kansas,
Rhode Island, West Virginia and the District of Columbia as initial
1989: 1) South
Dakota became the first state in the U.S. to license and regulate video
lottery games. 2) The Oregon Lottery began accepting bets on NFL games,
later adding other professional sports teams.
Virginia Lottery awarded the first instant ticket vending machine
1996: The Big
Game began with Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan and
Virginia as initial members.
Multi-State Lottery Association recorded a world_record lottery jackpot
of $295.7 million for its Powerball game.
1999: 1) Maria
Grasso of Boston wins a lump sum prize of $104 million in The
Big Game, the largest prize ever won by a single individual. 2)
Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia operate a lottery in
the U.S., while lotteries are legal in all Canadian provinces and
territories. More than 100 foreign lotteries exist and many have
operated for centuries. Some countries, like Mexico, France and Japan,
have national lotteries. The
International Association of State Lotteries lists 63 member nations
one on every continent except Antarctica.
21st Century - Great Britain
The largest lottery jackpot in history is shared by winners
from Michigan and Illinois. Both winners of the May 9 Big Game drawing
elect to receive cash payments of approximately $90 million as their
share of the $363 million (annuity) jackpot.