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Lottery is an organized game of chance where the distribution of wins and loses depends on the accidental choice of a lottery ticket or number (lot). Some money contributed by players goes to the organizers of the lottery; some is paid as taxes.

In ancient times.

The history of lottery leads to the ancient roots of the human civilization. According to scientists, a specific form of lottery was first mentioned in the ancient Greek myths: the soldiers took turns pulling stones out the golden helmet; one of such stones gave the right to fight with Zeus and either to succeed or die with honour.

Despite the discrepant chronology of antiquity, one of the later historical chronicles to be referred to by historians when talking about the origin of the predecessor of lottery is the Bible (The Book of Numbers, Chapter 26): God commanded Moses to count the "children of Israel" and to allot the lands of the western coast of the Jordan among them (as a reward for the years of trials and privations during their wandering in deserts). Historians explain these facts as an illustration that people are rewarded after they made a specific action; this can be interpreted as a profit associated with the remuneration received for winning the lottery.

Almost at the same time, the early forms of lottery initiate in ancient Rome and China. In 100 BC, during the reign of the Han dynasty the lotteries similar to the KENO game were held in China. The proceeds from its implementation were used to defend the country and, especially, to finance the construction of the Great Wall of China.

Historical chronicles say that the late Roman republic had various forms of lottery related to the name of Julius Caesar. During his reign, the first public lottery was organized to raise funds for the municipal needs of Rome: reparation of roads, bridges and buildings. Besides, free lotteries for the poor were arranged at major holidays. "Papers of happiness" were handed out to plebeians, and a few lucky ones got cash prizes.

American Lotteries (1612-1906).

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The origin of the American lottery has a remarkably interesting history associated, first of all, with the establishment of the first British colony in America. After Elizabeth I, the Queen of England, failed twice to colonize the lands of the New World, private capital stepped in. In 1612, King James I of England authorized the London stock company "Virginia", which had previously received a license for the construction of the first English colony named in honour of the King (Fort James), to conduct a lottery to fund construction and maintenance of the colony. The lottery was held regularly for several years and collected sufficient funds (about 8 thousand pounds a year) for the development of the colony, thereby playing a crucial role in the creation of the first permanent British settlement in America – Jamestown, Virginia.

Since then, given large interest of people and high profitability of a lottery, it has actively developed in the USA in all its forms, being the most functional tool to finance military and social projects. By 1860, profits from lotteries took the lion's share of funding for social programs in 24 U.S. states. In over 250 years, "lottery money" has built about 200 churches, 300 schools, many hospitals, orphanages and libraries, as well as about 50 colleges and universities, the most famous of which are Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Columbia and Brown.

However, by 1778, there were a lot of lottery scandals connected with the fact that privately owned lotteries were, thus, poorly regulated and subjected to widespread exposure of corruption, which subsequently led to social unrest and was the reason to prohibit them. By the end of XIX century, most U.S. states adopted the constitutional law to prohibit lotteries; on July 29, 1890, Benjamin Harrison, the President of the USA, sent a message to Congress demanding the adoption of the "tough and effective" anti-lottery legislation. Congress responded quickly and approved a law banning production and distribution of lottery tickets in the US. In 1892, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld this law, which completely stopped the lottery business in the U.S. in 1900 (except for the Louisiana State Lottery, closed down in 1906).