The Official Lottery

The official lottery is the most recognizable name in state-run gambling, and its earliest proponents claimed that it would provide a wholesome alternative to other vices. Its popularity grew in the nineteen-sixties, as states grappled with budgetary crises that could not be solved by raising taxes or cutting popular services like education.

Lottery opponents hailed from all walks of life and political persuasion, but many were devout Protestants who regarded gambling as morally unconscionable. They also feared that lottery money would support corrupt police departments, who used numbers games as a quota system to arrest, interrogate, and sometimes even kill African Americans.

By the fourteen-hundreds, it was common practice in the Low Countries for towns to hold lotteries to fund town fortifications, charity, and public buildings. The trend made its way to England, where Queen Elizabeth I chartered the first national lottery in 1567. Tickets cost ten shillings and served as a get-out-of-jail-free card—the ticket holder was exempt from arrest for certain crimes including murder, piracy, and treason.

New York’s first lottery was launched in 1967, with the first slogan, “Your Chance of a Lifetime to Help Education.” Since then, more than 34 billion dollars has been raised and invested in public education. The NY Lottery app offers a variety of ways to play: Check-A-Ticket, custom Push Notifications and more. Play responsibly. (Don’t play while crossing streets or operating motor vehicles.) Download today to play Powerball, Mega Millions, SuperLotto Plus, Fantasy 5, Hot Spot, and all Daily games.