Lotteries are popular games of chance in which players have an equal opportunity to win. Lotteries usually involve the drawing of lots for a prize - either goods or cash. Some countries outlaw lotteries, while others sanction it by organizing national lotteries.
Lottery tickets are usually scanned in big numbers using marksense-technology.
Marksense systems employ a play card (also called a playboard) on which number choices are preprinted next to an empty rectangle, circle, oval, or an incomplete arrow. Players select their chosen numbers by filling in the rectangle, circle or oval, or by completing the arrow.
After selecting the numbers, the play card is fed into a lotto terminal. The lotto terminal reads the marked numbers using "dark mark logic." This means the computer in the lotto terminal selects the darkest mark within a given set as the chosen number. Marksense technology has existed for decades and has also been used extensively during elections and standardized testing.
Lotteries have been used to help finance huge government projects.
Historically, lotteries have been used to help finance huge government projects. It is believed that the Han Dynasty (between 205 and 187 B.C.) used ancient Keno slips to fund the Great Wall of China.
Lotteries have also been used as a form of entertainment. During the Roman Empire, emperors gave gifts to party guests through a type of lottery system. Each guest would receive a ticket, and prizes would often consist of fancy items such as dinnerware. Every ticket holder would be assured of winning something.
And during the 16th Century, in the Italian Republic of Genoa, drawings were held yearly to choose five people out of 90 candidates to become members of the Senate. Citizens guessed which five names would be selected. The person with the exact five names received a jackpot prize. Later, the names were replaced by numbers, and lotto was born.
The first European lottery to award money was held in Florence, Italy in 1530. As with the earlier Roman style lottery, all ticket holders would be eligible for a small prize, such as a trinket, for playing.
The Dutch were the first to give money as prizes and these prizes were based on odds (roughly about 1 in 4 tickets winning a prize). The English word lottery stems from the Dutch word loterij, which is derived from the Dutch noun lot meaning fate. The Dutch state owned staatsloterij is the oldest still existing lottery.
Lottery soon spread to England and, in the early 1600s, crossed the Atlantic with the first settlers.
In America, the first lottery was held in Jamestown in 1612, and provided half the budget for the town's settlers. George Washington used a lottery to support the Revolutionary Army, and Thomas Jefferson used lotteries to fund public projects.
The first modern state-operated lottery in America was authorized in 1964 in New Hampshire. Proceeds went to support education. Today, lotteries are legally operated in 42 states, plus the District of Columbia, and revenues fund a variety of initiatives, including education, transportation, prison construction, economic development, environment and natural resources programs, and senior citizens centers.
As the number of lotteries grew, technology has grown to accommodate the industry's expansion. Players now have a choice of various on-line (computerized) games that process and record plays in seconds or instant ticket games that allow them to determine whether or not they are winners instantly.
On-line games let players pick from a range of numbers, according to the game's format, and play multiple times for one day or to play a certain number of draws in advance. One play usually costs one dollar. Tickets for on-line games are printed by on-line terminals that are connected to a central computer system that also validates tickets as winners or non-winners. Winning numbers for on-line games are chosen in televised drawings and are recorded in the central computer system.
In the last twenty years, instant ticket lotteries were introduced adding new game options. These tickets allow players to scratch a protective coating from a ticket, match the symbols according to the game rules printed on the ticket, and instantly determine if they have won. Instant tickets come in a variety of themes, prizes, colors, shapes and prices.
As the lottery industry continued to grow, multi-jurisdictional alliances were formed. These alliances were designed to offer players an opportunity to win even larger jackpots.
The popularity of lotteries is growing all over the world. The United States remains the largest country of lotteries, though.
Worldwide, lotteries extend over the continents of Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and are also in Latin America and Canada. The first multi-national lottery, Viking Lotto, was introduced in 1992 by five participating Scandinavian countries.