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The History of the Lottery

The lottery https://www.unclebobsbuffet.com/ is a game in which people put up small sums of money in return for a chance to win a larger sum. Most lotteries are financial, but some are also recreational. The first known lotteries were held in the Low Countries in the fifteenth century, with proceeds used for town fortifications and charity.

The Continental Congress voted to hold a lottery to raise funds for the Revolutionary War, and Alexander Hamilton argued that if the odds were reasonable enough, “everybody… will be willing to hazard a trifling sum for the hope of considerable gain.” He wasn’t wrong. Lotteries proliferated across America as state governments searched for ways to fund social services without enraging an anti-tax electorate.

Lottery advocates dismissed ethical objections to gambling, arguing that people would do it anyway, so the government might as well get in on the action and pocket some of the profits. This argument had limits—by its logic, the government should sell heroin—but it gave moral cover to people who wanted to legalize state-run gambling and use the proceeds for good causes.

Today, scratch-off games—which make up six to 65 percent of all lottery sales and are especially popular in Black communities—are the bread and butter for many state lotteries. These are very regressive games, skewing heavily toward poorer players. Nonetheless, they’re still far less regressive than Powerball or Mega Millions, which draw mostly upper-middle-class players. And even those games aren’t free: To play, you have to pay a subscription fee—often fairly cheap but always mandatory.