The Origins of the Official Lottery

New York Lottery has been around for more than fifty years and has generated more than thirty billion dollars in proceeds that go to education. It began in 1967 as an independent entity, and in 2013 it was merged into the New York State Gaming Commission. The lottery is also regulated by the New York State Attorney General. The office is responsible for the administration, regulation and enforcement of the lottery. The office is committed to protecting the integrity of the lottery and promoting public awareness.

The origins of the official lottery are obscure, but the underlying motivation was clear: state governments were facing budgetary crises that could not be solved by raising taxes or cutting services. Both options were deeply unpopular with voters. The lottery appeared to offer states a way to balance the books without imposing taxes or cutting services, which would be punished by voters at the polls. As Cohen argues, “that explains why the lottery became so popular in America, where it has remained ever since.”

Early in its history, there was a pronounced moral ambivalence about gambling of any kind, but by the 1800s this had given way to exigency. “America was short on revenue and long on needs,” he writes, and public lotteries seemed like an appealing alternative. They helped build Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and the Continental Congress even tried to hold a lottery to pay for the Revolutionary War. Private lotteries were a common source of income in many areas, too, and had become a popular means of funding everything from civil defense to churches.

But even as the popularity of the lottery grew, there was a growing sense that it was inherently corrupt. In the nineteenth century, a series of scandals revealed that lottery promoters had acquired huge profits for themselves, often through bribery, and that countless small winners were not being properly awarded their prizes. These problems led to the gradual demise of the public lotteries and, ultimately, of the private ones, too.

While most state lotteries are still largely limited to in-person sales, a handful have begun to branch out into online games. One such site, Jackpocket, allows players to use their own devices to play official state lotteries in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, and Washington. The app has other benefits, too, including allowing users to create and save ePlayslips, scan their ticket barcodes to see if they’ve won, and enter non-winning Scratch-Offs or Draw Games into Second Chance Drawings. In addition, users can view the current winning numbers and jackpots on their phone or computer screen. Currently, the app is available in fourteen states, but it will expand to include more states in the near future. To get started, visit the website to download the app.