Lotteries are a type of gambling in which numbers are drawn at random. Some governments outlaw lotteries, while others endorse them. Some even organize state or national lotteries to regulate them. But is the lottery a tax on the poor? And does it really increase our chance of winning money? Let’s take a look at the history of the lottery.
Lotteries began to re-emerge in the 15th century
Although casting lots is as ancient as the biblical story of Noah, modern lotteries first began in Europe in the 15th century in places like Burgundy and Flanders. This was a time when towns needed funds for defenses and to help the poor. France’s Francis I allowed lotteries in many cities between 1520 and 1539, and Italian cities like Genoa and Modena also held lotteries.
In England, the lotteries began to re-emerges during the reign of Elizabeth I. A Royal Proclamation issued in 1567 announced that there would be a lottery that would yield a large sum of money, and that the money would be used to repair harbours, strengthen the realme, and carry out other public good works. This lottery drew over ten thousand participants. But, it was not without controversy.
In ancient Greece, a lotteries system was common in Athens. The Greeks regarded the lottery as a more democratic way of choosing government officials than the more direct methods of elections. Their system of sortition required that eligible citizens place their names into a lottery, and the winners were assigned to a given position. It was believed that this method was more fair, and a special device was devised to ensure a random draw.
Are they a “tax on the poor?”
When you think about the lottery, it’s easy to see that it’s a “tax on the poor.” The government is using this money for various programs and initiatives, but it’s also a “tax” on low-income earners. In Missouri, for example, $336 million in lottery proceeds are being allocated to public schools by 2020. In the United States, lottery proceeds account for a significant percentage of state government revenue.
While the lottery is a popular game among the poor, it also exploits their hopes. Many of them know that they can’t afford the necessities of life, so they purchase lottery tickets in the hopes of winning a big prize. For these people, a large jackpot could pay off student loans, mortgages, medical bills, and even vacation costs.
Although lottery funding often begins as a noble plan to help people, it often becomes a source of revenue for a greedy state treasury. Through bureaucratic and legislative gimmickry, lottery revenues are diverted to other uses, such as expanding lottery services and promoting predatory gambling. Because of these practices, many of the poorest citizens believe that lottery tickets are a “tax on the poor.”