A person’s chances of winning a prize on the Lottery depend on how many of the six main numbers he or she matches. A winner of the jackpot prize of $5 million is guaranteed if a player matches all six numbers. Second place is given to the player who matches five of the six numbers and the bonus number. Lower prizes are awarded to players who match two or three numbers. The winner is deemed the “luckiest” person of the drawing.
The earliest recorded lotteries were in the low countries. In the 15th century, French cities and towns held public lotteries to raise funds for defense and poor relief. These lotteries were banned in France for nearly two centuries, but were eventually tolerated. A similar lottery was held in Genoa, Italy, during World War II. There, it was called the Ventura. It was the first European public lottery. Although the French government banned it during the war, it was reopened following the end of the war.
In the United States, state governments run the lotteries. These monopolies do not allow commercial competition and use the profits to fund various government programs. As of August 2004, the U.S. had forty state lotteries. Approximately 90 percent of the country’s population lived in a state that had a lottery. Anyone physically present in such a state can purchase a lottery ticket. In South Carolina, the lottery is popular with high-school educated middle-class men from middle-class backgrounds.
As early as the sixteenth century, the practice of dividing property by lot was in use. In the Old Testament, Moses commanded that the people of Israel take a census and divide land by lot. In the early seventeenth century, the first lottery was tied to the United States when King James I of England created a lottery for the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. Since that time, it has been used for public and private organizations to raise money for wars, towns, colleges, and public-works projects.
There were over two hundred lotteries in colonial America between 1744 and 1776. Many of these were aimed at building roads, libraries, colleges, canals, bridges, and other infrastructure. During the French and Indian War, several colonies used lotteries to finance their armies. In 1747, Yale received a license from the Connecticut legislature to conduct a lottery worth PS3,200. This practice was not widespread in the eighteenth century, but it was popular at the time.
According to the latest data from the National Lottery Association, U.S. state lotteries generated approximately $23 billion in sales in FY 2006. However, this is only a snapshot of the national lottery market. Each state’s lottery profits are allocated differently. See table 7.2 for details on allocation of profits. The top three lottery-sales states are California, New York, and New Jersey. These three states account for more than half of the total U.S. lottery profits.