The lottery has a long history. As far back as the 1760s, George Washington conducted a lottery for the purpose of financing the construction of Mountain Road, which was a critical piece of infrastructure for the American colonies. Benjamin Franklin, who was a strong advocate of the lottery, also backed its use to fund the Revolutionary War. Similarly, John Hancock ran a lottery to fund the rebuilding of the faneuil hall in Boston. However, the majority of colonial lotteries were unsuccessful. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission described most of these early lottery efforts as “ineffective.”
In the Low Countries, the lottery was popular in the 15th century, with various towns holding public lotteries to raise funds for public purposes such as fortifications and relief for the poor. Though some argue that the lottery dates back to earlier times, town records of Ghent indicate that these first lotteries may have been held much earlier. In a record from 9 May 1445, the city of L’Ecluse records a lottery of 4304 tickets, with the prizes of 1737 florins, which would be equal to US$170,000 today.
Although lottery tickets are cheap, the cost of purchasing a single ticket can add up over time. In addition to the expenses of purchasing a ticket, a winning ticket is not guaranteed. It is not a wise idea to play the lottery if you cannot afford to pay the cost. There are many more important things to spend your money on instead of buying lottery tickets.