The Evolution of the Official Lottery

The first state-run lotteries live sgp in the modern era appeared in the Low Countries around the fifteenth century. They were a popular way to raise funds for town fortifications, the poor, and other municipal needs. They were also a convenient form of taxation—about forty percent went to the municipality. That was a big percentage at the time, but in comparison to the total wealth of the citizenry, it was a drop in the bucket. By the late nineteen-sixties, the population was growing rapidly and inflation was rising; a generous social safety net made it difficult for many states to balance their budgets without raising taxes or cutting services.

The lottery became a state-by-state answer to the crisis in state funding. New Hampshire, the first to adopt a lottery in 1964, was one of thirteen states that followed suit within a few years. The national tax revolt of the late twentieth century had intensified, and federal money that flowed into state coffers began to dwindle.

By focusing on a single line item in the state budget, legalization advocates were able to sell the lottery as an alternative to slashing government programs and raising taxes. They no longer claimed that a vote for the lottery would float all of a state’s spending, but rather a specific part of it—most often education, though sometimes elder care or public parks, and occasionally veterans benefits.

During the 1800s, religious and moral sensitivities began to turn against gambling of all kinds. Denmark Vesey, an enslaved man in Charleston, South Carolina, won a local lottery in 1800 and used the prize money to buy his freedom. It was the beginning of a long-running trend that eventually culminated in prohibition in 1920.

But in the twenty-first century, the lottery has become an ever-increasing force. In 2018, it raised more than $502 billion—far more than the revenue collected by alcohol and tobacco combined. The lottery is particularly attractive to lower income Americans, who spend disproportionately more of their budgets on instant scratch-off games that are advertised in their communities, luring them with the false promise of wealth.

In order to win the jackpot, players must match all five numbers drawn. The numbers are drawn twice per day, at 2:30pm and 10:30pm EST. The Take5 results page is updated after each drawing.

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