The First Official Lottery in America

Lottery data japan games have a long history in America. The first official state lottery, in New Hampshire, was launched in 1964, as America’s tax revolt accelerated. Faced with a rapidly growing population and rising inflation, state budgets were straining to support their welfare safety net. In order to keep up, they needed to raise taxes or cut services. Both options were unpopular.

With its promise of cash and prizes, the lottery seemed like a silver bullet. As Cohen shows, this narrative of the lottery as a morally virtuous source of revenue reshaped public opinion in a way that has been particularly enduring. In a few short decades, government officials were able to convince voters that by supporting the lottery, they would be “taxing themselves a little bit less” and thus freeing up more money for public services.

In the early American colonies, the lottery helped finance a variety of private and public projects. Benjamin Franklin organized several lotteries to sell cannons for the defense of Philadelphia, and George Washington managed a lottery that sold land and slaves as prizes. During the French and Indian War, the provinces of Massachusetts Bay and Pennsylvania ran lots to raise money for their local militias.

Today, the lottery brings in about one per cent of state revenues each year. That’s significant, but it’s also just a drop in the bucket. The real problem, as Cohen argues, is that lotteries make it harder for politicians to pass much-needed tax increases. They do this by promoting the idea that schools and other important services are lavishly supported with gambling funds, even though, as Cohen points out, these dollars come largely from the poorest citizens.