The Growing Popularity of the Lottery


During fiscal year 2003, Americans wagered $44 billion on lotteries. This was an increase of 6.6% over the previous year. Lottery sales have steadily increased since 1998. In the United States, New York, California, and Texas account for the bulk of the market, with a combined total of $17.2 billion in sales. In addition to New York, lottery sales were also up in many other states. In fact, thirty states now offer lottery games, and the number continues to grow.

While national lotteries do provide much-needed state revenue, opponents argue that they encourage excessive spending by luring starry-eyed individuals who wish to make a fortune playing for the jackpot. While this is not evidence of a thriving gambling culture, responsible lottery players contribute to local and national community development by spending a modest amount of money on tickets. Despite this, there is no reason to begrudge lottery-playing, which is still an enjoyable form of entertainment.

After the Civil War, southern states turned to the lottery to attract residents. The lottery was patterned after the Irish Sweepstakes and became popular in the state after the legislature granted exclusive lottery provider status in 1868. While it had its share of controversy, it did attract a large number of players and allowed the lottery to generate revenue without any state taxes. Ultimately, the lottery generated 48% of its revenue, which allowed the operator to pay no taxes on the money.