The evolution of the lottery

We play it, we keep up to date, but how did it begin?

Lotteries are ever-changing and constantly growing. According to Statista, in 2015 the online gaming market generated a volume of 37.91 billion U.S dollars! It’s forecasted that the number will almost double in 2018 and the industry is expected to rake in around 59.79 billion U.S dollars. Needless to say, the lotto industry is on the rise worldwide. We’ll have to wait until May to get the final report, but we’re sure you can see how quickly things change. So where did lotteries start and how did it turn into the game we have today? Let’s take a trip through time and find out!

the evolution of lotteries

The Classics

Lotteries can be traced back to Keno games. The first record of any lottery can be dated back to the Chinese Han Dynasty between 205 and 187 BC. It’s believed that games like Keno helped fund defence projects like the Great Wall of China.

Other historical documents like Homer’s Iliad refers to lots being placed on Agamemnon’s helmet in an effort to determine who would fight Hector.

Later during the Roman Empire, the first known European lotteries were held. These games often occurred during dinner parties among family and friends. It was a simple game where every guest was guaranteed a winning. Each guest would receive a ticket and each ticket would be associated with an item in the house such as dinnerware. In a nutshell, this was a distribution of wealth among the already wealthy.

Then there was the first public sale. It’s during the rule of Augustus Caesar that the earliest record of a lottery ticket sale can be found. Much like the game’s origins, the funds were used to repair the City of Rome, in this case the prize was not money, but various artefacts of various worth.

Show us the money

The first time a cash prize was won was in the 15th Century is the Low Countries. A number of towns held public lotteries to raise money and to help the community. At the end of the draw, the funds were distributed to those in need.

This trend spread to the Netherlands in the 17th Century where it became a popular means of helping the less fortunate. In 1449 the first Italian lottery was held to finance the war against the Republic of Venice.

Modern history

Lotteries have come a long way from wars, distributing wealth and solely funding government projects. In some countries lotteries and gambling have been outlawed, while others view it as a way to grow local economies and hold their own local lotteries in an effort to do so. No matter the situation, every country has their own regulations on playing national and international lotteries as well as winning and receiving your jackpot prize. Countries who do hold their own lotteries might decide to donate a portion of the jackpot winnings to a dedicated cause.

With modern technology changing the game and helping players make the shift from paper to online, we’re sure you can see how the lottery industry has changed and how it will keep growing. If you’d like to know the history of a specific country’s lottery, leave us a comment below and we’ll explore it in a later article.



This post was written by
Jason L - who has written 2735 articles
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