Lottery is the enrichment of its organizers

Lottery is the…?

The first commodity lottery was held on February 24, 1466 in the Belgian city of Bruges. It was organized by the widow of the artist Jan van Eyck, who decided to celebrate the 25 anniversary of the death of her husband this way, and simultaneously raise funds to benefit the urban poor.

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The word “lottery” derives from the Frankish “hlot” which means “lots.”

The word had eventually transformed into more familiar to us English “lot”. The first European lottery took place in 1466. Incidentally, from the very beginning these events were designed for fundraising purposes.

In 1520-1532 lotteries were held in several cities in France by order of King Francis I, who thought of a way to replenish state coffers.

In 1530 the first large lottery in the world “De Lotto de Firenze” was held in Florence, where the winnings were given in cash. Soon this practice spread out over the entire Italy. Since 1863 the country has been having regular national lotteries.

The lotteries were not without fraud and abuse. In the 17th century the “Sun King” Louis XIV himself was a scammer.

He personally held drawings and somehow during one of them has awarded the main prize to himself, and two smaller ones to the queen and crown prince.

The other participants of the lottery were so outraged by this action that the king had to return the money and assign a new drawing. However, sellers of lottery tickets also cheated, buying tickets at a lower price and selling at a premium.
They also administered a separate bid that a certain ticket will or will not be drawn in the lottery, taking profits away from the royal treasury.

However, we cannot deny the benefits of lotteries because the proceeds often used to be allocated for the public good.

For example, in Britain several major projects like construction of the British Museum or the repair of bridges were financed with the funds obtained by selling lottery tickets.

In the U.S., thanks to the national lottery conducted by George Washington, a road through a mountainous region in Cumberland was built.

The opera house in Sydney was built on the money received from the introduction of taxes on gambling.


Authorities have always had ambiguous feelings towards lotteries.

Some tried to ban them. In 1890 the U.S. Congress, headed by President Harrison, condemned lottery draws as “fraudulent and immoral.” And yet, the lotteries were allowed again, as they brought the state a great deal of money.

However, always remember that the main goal for any lottery is first and foremost, the enrichment of its organizers.


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