History of Lotteries in the United States

Guest Post

Gambling in the USA and other English colonies dates back to the 1600s. Initially, lotteries were created to build revenue in English colonies. Funds were used to build roads, churches, colleges, libraries and other public works.

Interestingly enough, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Princeton were financed by lotteries. Not a lot has changed throughout history, as American lottery games today still contribute to public works as well.

Alexander Hamilton once said, “Everybody will be willing to hazard a trifling sum for the chance of considerable gain.” It still rings true today, as lotteries are now more popular than ever with the American population.

Playing PowerballLotteries weren’t always popular in the USA, though. There were a lot of lottery scandals in the 1800s and it wasn’t long before states started banning lotteries. By 1890, only two states offered legal lotteries (Louisiana and Delaware).

Just like when anything is banned in the country, the underground market thrived. Black market lotteries were common when lotteries were banned throughout most of the country and that held true until the 1900s.

The first American lottery that was government-run was in Puerto Rico (1934). The next government-run lottery wasn’t created until 1964 in New Hampshire. Today, 44 states offer state and national lotteries.

States that don’t offer lotteries are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah. Despite not offering lotteries, it’s still possible to play in other American lotteries. You have several options available to you.

If you live near a state border you can travel to a state with lotteries and purchase tickets at a licensed retailer. You can also use a lottery ticket messenger service online. These services are great if you want to play other state lotteries too.

Today, lotteries raise billions annually to help support state budgets across the United States. Jackpots are bigger than ever and revenues will likely continue to grow, as more people start to play the big lotteries.

Popular Lotteries in the USA

Want a chance to win a billion dollars? The US Powerball had a $1,586,600,000 jackpot in 2016. That has been the only billion dollar jackpot in lottery history, but with popularity gaining, you expect even bigger jackpots in the future.

The next biggest jackpot won in US history was worth $656,000,000 (Mega Millions). These are the two largest American lotteries, but there are many other lotteries that turn Americans into millionaires every week.

The Cash4Life lottery in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Tennessee is another popular US lottery. You can even purchase tickets to the Cash4Life lottery using one of the online messenger services.

Other joint-state lotteries in the United States include 2by2, All or Nothing, Hot Lotto, Lucky for Life, Mega Hits and Tri-State lottery. These lotteries are available in multiple states throughout the country.

Instant Lottery Tickets

Some state lotteries in the USA even offer the ability to play instant win lottery tickets online. Have you ever played “Blazing Red 7s” or “Triple 777s”? You can play these online in some states in the USA.

You’re not going to win millions or billions of dollars playing instant win games, but there are still some big prizes to be won. Online lottery tickets are available on popular sites like PlayUSALotteries.com that offer the option to play for various stakes as well, offering the ability to win bigger payouts.

Keno is another game that’s available online in some states. Instant keno is quick to play and you can win some massive prizes if you hit a lot of numbers. Check your state’s lottery website to find out if you can play these games online.

 

A Simple Way to Get New Fans

The following piece appeared in the Oct. 8, 2011 edition of Thoroughbred Times and has been reprinted with their permission.


Racing needs to pay attention to P. T. Barnum

by MARK SIMON

Mark Simon, editor of the Thoroughbred Times

Mark Simon, editor of the Thoroughbred Times

SOME racing executives or track owners believe the sport has to compete with lotteries. So they come up with bets that are difficult to win and are likely to produce a large payoff. That, they think, will draw attention to the sport, and result in more people coming to the track. It has not worked out that way. If racing wants to attract new fans, it is time to go back to the basics and keep things simple.

Bets such as the super high five, superfecta, and pick six can produce large payoffs, but they are not substitutes for lotteries or competition with lotteries. First, they appeal to two different audiences. Second, they are nothing alike.

Lotteries—and by the same token slot machines and video lottery terminals (VLTs)—require no skill or thought. The results are random. 

With super high fives, superfectas, and pick sixes, the results are not random. The horses with the better form, jockeys, trainers, class, post, distance proclivity, surface proclivity, et cetera, have a better chance of winning or finishing in the first four or five. Handicapping—skill—comes into play.

The large majority of those attracted to mindless lotteries and VLTs because they are mindless and random are poor candidates to ever be involved betting on races. First, they have to find themselves at the racetrack. Second, if they are at the track, how could they compete in a game of skill with no prior experience?

When that fan starts to look at each individual horse and why it could win, then you have someone who may move on to show or win betting.

In racing, those with more money, and who can cover more combinations, have a much greater chance of winning than someone who randomly plays a single ticket.

An advantage that lotteries have on racing is distribution, with countless stores and outlets, as opposed to racing, which has a brick-and-mortar facility, and maybe some off-track betting outlets. Lotteries reach millions of potential players daily, and they are well promoted through television and newspapers ads.

Racing has a difficult time promoting new bets, even to existing fans. The super high five was introduced in 2007, but has not gotten much traction. With a $1 minimum, it also is expensive, so not popular among those with little resources. In a ten-horse field, the super high five has 30,240 possible combinations.

Its unpopularity is evident on racing’s biggest day, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, when all the big bettors come out and play in earnest since all the pools are large.

Last year, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), the super high five pool was just $269,513. By comparison, the superfecta had a pool of $3,289,617, the trifecta a pool of $5,983,837, and the exacta a pool of $5,909,080.

Rather than try promoting an obscure bet with limited appeal, racing should introduce a simple wager easily understood by a novice. When a couple goes to the track and one knows a lot more about racing than the other, while one is betting superfectas and trifectas and exactas, the other can get their feet wet by betting an odd-even proposition, for example. If the race winner carries an odd-numbered saddle cloth, that is the bet winner, and if the winner carries an even-numbered saddle cloth, that is the bet winner. In a Breeders’ Cup race, that would give a novice bettor six or seven chances to win.

After a few races, someone making that bet may start to wonder why the payoffs between odd and even are not exactly the same, and you have the beginning of the education of a fan. When that fan starts to look at each individual horse and why it could win, then you have someone who may move on to show or win betting.

That process, of getting new fans started in the sport relatively simply so they are not intimidated to play or worried about looking foolish, is worth far more than the meager returns from an obscure, hard-to-win bet like the super high five.

P. T. Barnum had it figured out a century ago: No one ever got rich overestimating the intelligence of the American public. Do we need any more evidence today than slots, VLTs, and lotteries?

Let’s keep it simple, folks.

Mark Simon is editor of Thoroughbred Times. His e-mail address is msimon@thoroughbredtimes.com.