Where does lottery comes from? by peterfuchs
September 19, 2008, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Art as Gift Research blog | Tags:

An EU Green Card, won on the EU GREEN CARD LOTTERY, made by the artist group Societe Realiste (

Lottery, the last flicker of hope to the needy or the guiding light for those who are waiting to get a Green Card to the United States, divides our society. Some consider it to be an ultimate evil:

Lotteries are most often run by governments or local states and are sometimes described as a regressive tax, since those most likely to buy tickets will typically be the less affluent members of a society. The astronomically high odds against winning the larger prizes have also led to the epithets of a “tax on stupidity”, “math tax” or “voluntary tax”. They are intended to suggest that lotteries, being an addictive form of gambling, are governmental revenue-raising mechanisms that will attract only those consumers who fail to see that the game is a very bad deal. Indeed, the desire of lottery operators to guarantee themselves a profit requires that an average lottery ticket be worth substantially less than what it costs to buy. (via Wikipedia)

But for some, lottery is a form of donation: the first ticket were some form os shares, which were used as a loan to raise money to different issues, like founding colonies in the 17-18. century, or to build cultural institutions:

Lotteries in colonial America played a significant part in the financing of both private and public ventures. It has been recorded that more than two hundred lotteries were sanctioned between 1744 and 1776 where they played a major role in financing projects that included roads, libraries, churches, colleges, canals, bridges, etc.[3] In the 1740s, Princeton and Columbia University had their beginnings financed by lotteries, as did the University of Pennsylvania by the Academy Lottery in 1755.

In England, the National Lottery for Good Causes is financing a wide range of cultural, social, environmental projects – as the name suggest, they do good anywhere in the world.
It was a widespread custom in the 18-19. century to raise funds with lottery, yet, these event were held for an exclusive audience, who did a compulsory donation, and won some sort of minor present in return. Yet, very little research was done on this issue. If I can manage to grab a book on the issue, I will post it here later.


1 Comment so far
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Interesting article, I don’t think lottery is a stupidity tax. This view leaves out the value we get from the benefit of anticipation. The question is: are there people for whom the value of anticipation is greater than the “cost of disappointment” (from not winning) and the “value of money to play in lottery” combined?

I’ve recently written an article on it: Are lottery players stupid?

Please have a look and tell me what you think!

Thank you, Nick

Comment by Nick

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