During the 15th century, lotteries were held in the Netherlands. Lotteries were often organized so that a percentage of the profits would be donated to a good cause. Lotteries financed colleges, libraries, roads, and bridges. Lotteries also raised funds for poor people in the Netherlands.
Lotteries also raised money for colonial and military forces. During the French and Indian Wars, several colonies held lotteries to raise money for military efforts. The Continental Congress also used lotteries to raise money for the Colonial Army.
During the 17th century, several towns held public lotteries to raise money for public works projects. The first lottery was organized by King James I of England to raise money for the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia.
During the 17th century, lotteries were popular in the Netherlands. Lotteries were used to finance projects such as roads, bridges, libraries, and canals. Lotteries were also used by the United States to raise funds for public works projects. The United States had at least twenty-seven lotteries during the colonial period.
Most colonial-era lotteries were unsuccessful. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission describes them as “unsuccessful” in its 1999 report. However, a rare ticket bearing the signature of George Washington sold for $15,000 in 2007.
The first U.S. lottery was organized in 1755 to finance the University of Pennsylvania. Other universities such as Princeton and Columbia were also financed by lotteries.
During the 1970s, twelve other states established lotteries. In 2004, the United States had forty state lotteries, most of which operated under state lottery boards. The North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL) listed nearly 186,000 lottery retailers on its Web site. The NASPL Web site provides a list of lottery retailers and answers questions about lottery games.