Lotteries are a popular form of gambling in the United States, with several billions of payouts accumulated since their inception. Some of the most well-known lotteries include Mega Millions and Powerball. These games are offered by many jurisdictions, but there are a number of states that have yet to legalize online lotteries.
There are currently 45 states and territories that offer lottery services. Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, District of Columbia, and Washington DC are all part of the United States, while Hawaii and Alaska are outside the contiguous United States. Most of these jurisdictions operate their own lotteries, while some are affiliated with MegaMillions or Powerball.
While most of the profits go to public schools, colleges, and other non-profit organizations, a large proportion of lottery funds goes to promote responsible gaming. Several states have also legalized online lotteries, with a few more in the works. Currently, six states allow online lottery sales: Rhode Island, New Jersey, Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin.
The oldest lotteries in the United States date back to the early 1700s. During the French and Indian War, several colonies used lotteries to raise money for their military. In 1758, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts raised money for a “Expedition against Canada” through a lottery. Other colonial lotteries raised funds for roads, college scholarships, libraries, and more.
Many states, including Rhode Island and New Jersey, are currently in the process of legalizing online lotteries. Online gaming is not widespread in the US, however, and has not reached the level of popularity of sports betting. A handful of online lottery services have expanded their offerings, providing Instant Games. This type of gaming is similar to casino-style games, with the added benefit of wagering.
Several states, including Alabama and Utah, do not provide lottery services. Religion is cited as one reason for this. Another is that the state does not want to provide gambling to its residents. However, it is possible that Alaska and Hawaii are planning to introduce lottery legislation.
The earliest recorded European lotteries are believed to have been held in the Low Countries in the 15th century. They were mainly played at dinner parties, and prizes included fancy dinnerware and articles of unequal value. Various lotteries offered prizes in the form of “Pieces of Eight.”
One of the first recorded lotteries in the US was the Loterie Royale, which was organized by King Francis I of France in the 16th century. It was authorized by an edict from Chateaurenard and was a flop. Although it was not illegal at the time, it was soon outlawed.
In the 18th century, there were more than 200 lotteries operating in the United States. They raised money for a variety of public purposes, such as the construction of roads and bridges, the establishment of colleges and libraries, and for town fortifications. Several private lotteries also were organized, especially in England.
As the 20th century progressed, the United States saw its first territorial lottery, in Puerto Rico, and the introduction of a national lottery, in the form of the MegaMillions game. Today, the biggest multi-state lottery is Powerball. Almost all of the states and territories in the US offer Powerball.