The lotto is a form of gambling that involves drawing lots to win a prize. It works by purchasing a ticket with a number and checking whether the lot drawn contains your number. Lotteries have been popular for a very long time, but have only gained been legalised in a lot of countries since the twentieth century. Keno Slips of the Chinese Han Dynasty (205 – 187 BC) are the first known signs of the lottery. These lotteries are known to have helped finance, government projects at that time like the Great Wall China. Apart from this, references to lotteries have also been found in the words “teulelpren”, translated to “to throw wood” in the Celtic era.

The Roman Empirehad the first known European lotteries that were held as a recreation at dinners and parties where guests would each receive a ticket and receive prizes of dinnerware and such. However, this type of lottery was only for distribution of gifts amongst guests and not for income generation.  Roman Emperor Augustus Ceaser is known to have organized lotto betting for the first time to generate funds for repairs in Rome. This was the first time where tickets were sold and winners were given prizes in the form of articles of different values.

The one of first French lotteries were organized by King Francis I in the year 1539 called the Loterie Royale and was a huge failure as the tickets were priced high and those who could afford it opposed the project causing a complete ban of lotteries after it. In England, Queen Elizabeth I chartered the first official lottery in 1566 and drawn in 1569 in order to raise money for public works. Here the ticket holders received a prize that equalled the money they spent making it an interest free loan to the government for the three years the tickets were sold.

In early America, lotteries played a significant part in the financing of public and private sector ventures and helped finance roads, libraries, churches, colleges, bridges, canals in between 1744 and 1776. Educational institutions such as University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Columbia were funded by lotteries. Before 1861 the game came to be operated out of policy shops where betters chose numbers to bet upon. What started off as a game for the higher classes started to become popular amongst the poorestcommunities. The low betting cost and the ability to receive credit from bookies made the game attractive to the lower income groups.

Although lottery games existed in the United States from the 18th century onwards, many years of constitutional amendment were involved to bring  the game back in 1864. It is only after this period that lotto betting has reached its potential of fulfilling the poor man’s dream.