There is almost no country in the world with such a long history with lotteries as the United States. British colonists brought this game to America centuries ago. Lotteries were first introduced in the state of Massachusetts. However, in some colonies gambling was restricted. For example, people could not play cards or gaming tables. It was not even allowed in their own homes. Especially English investors didn’t like it. They saw gambling as a sign of ‘laziness’ and thought that working in the colony was a better way to spend your time. Evangelical reformers in the 1830s condemned the gambling habit as well. These Christians thought lotteries were immoral and even petitioned legislatures to ban gambling. It resulted in some anti-lottery sentiments in the 1840s. Between 1844 to 1859, 10 states introduced laws with a lottery ban.
Lotteries in the 18th century
Just like today, there is a lot of difference between the states in America. Some states did allow gambling because they considered it as a good distraction from work. People could relax for a while and make friends. Besides that, lotteries were also a good source of revenue. For example, in the state of Virginia lotteries were organized to support the colonies. Even back in the day the lotteries were organized quite well. It did not take long before 13 states were able to organize a lottery system in which they could revenue. Hundreds of people already participated for fun in the 18th and 19th century. American Congress even organized a National Lottery in the middle of the 19th century.
Ban on lotteries in the 19th century
The National Lottery ended in failure. It appeared that many lotteries in the United States were crooked. Together with the Evangelists, people began to protest. Because of the anti-lottery sentiment less and less states organized lotteries at the end of the 19th century. In 1890 people could only participate in the lottery in Delaware, Louisiana, Missouri and Kentucky. Lottery tickets became so scare that they were shipped across the country. The ban on lotteries also led to illegal organizations. Another drama took place in 1895. After research it came to light that the Louisiana Lottery Company worked with immense bribing from a criminal syndicate in New York. Promotors from the lottery had accepted large sums of money from illegitimate sources. It resulted in a loss of 90 % of its revenue from lottery tickets. Because of the corruption all over the United States, lottery were completely forbidden in 1895.
Popularity of lotteries in the 20th century
Luckily things changed for the better in the 20th century. In the past hundred years lotteries became legal in most US states. In the 1930s the United States government decided to organize legal lotteries. The first one was established in Puerto Rico in 1934, and New Hampshire followed in 1964. The popularity of lotteries grew tremendously in the 1970s. In that decade the first instant lotteries were introduced. They were called ‘scratch cards’, and nowadays we can’t think of lotteries without them. These cards actually make up a big part of the total lottery revenue in 2017. In individual lotteries in the United States players have to guess numbers. Most of the time these are three-digit, four-digit or five number games. Sometimes there’s also a bonus number involved that gives you the chance to win the Jackpot. Another popular lottery game is Keno. This game, that has its origins in China, is about guessing 4 to 10 numbers correctly from a range of 1 to 80.