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The Official Lottery App

The Official Lottery app puts the power of lottery right in your pocket. Play Powerball, Mega Millions and more daily!

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In the fourteen hundred and fifteenth century, citizens of the Low Countries held public lotteries to raise funds for town fortifications and to help the poor. In these early times, a lottery ticket cost only ten shillings—a large sum in today’s currency.

By the late nineteen-sixties, Cohen writes, growing awareness of all the money to be made in gambling collided with a crisis in state funding. Many governments faced the unenviable choice of either raising taxes or cutting services. Both options were certain to enrage voters. For politicians facing the dilemma, Cohen writes, “lotteries were essentially budgetary miracles.” They allowed states to maintain existing service levels without arousing voters’ outrage.

Lotteries have become a powerful force in the United States. Although there is no national lottery, many states participate in consortiums that jointly organize games spanning larger geographic footprints and offering more substantial jackpots. Moreover, there is no shortage of crooked operators eager to exploit the public’s appetite for chance. But despite all the hype, it isn’t necessarily true that playing the lottery makes you rich. And even if it does, the winners tend to be disproportionately lower-income citizens.