Lotteries have come a long way from how they started. Let’s look at how they started and how they became so successful.

What is the definition for lottery?

As most of us know, a lottery is an act of gambling that includes the drawing of numbers at random for a prize. Some governments in the world have made lotteries illegal in their state, while others promote it to the extent of organizing a national or state lottery.

Typically, you bet on the lottery via shops on the Highstreet. Nowadays, with the help of technology, the evolution and accessibility of lotteries have increased like crazy! This is thanks to online gaming companies such as Lottoland now provides online lottery betting to customers around the world with just a touch of a button on your phone or laptop.

Why is it called a lottery?

In Italy a numerical lottery was invented in 1620 by the Genoese, and was called lotto di Genova. It had been devised originally for the election of counselors, with wagers upon the outcome. But later the names of candidates were replaced by the numbers from one to ninety, with wagers, according to the ability of the gambler, upon the five numbers that were drawn.

There were four different kinds of chances in this lotto, the lowest returned fourteen times the stake and the highest forty-eight hundred times the amount of the stake.

This form of Italian lottery was transformed into a game, called lotto, often played for stakes, which became popular in France and England in the eighteenth century.

Lotteries throughout the ancient world

Evidence suggests that a form of lottery can be traced back to the Ancient Chinese Western Han Dynasty in 200BC.

The game that was popular during this era was called the ‘white pigeon game’. It earned that name due to the fact that birds were used to send the results of the draws out to villages located a substantial while away. A chunk of the money generated from this early lottery was used to help fund the making of Great Wall of China.

During the times of the Ancient Romans, there were several different types of lotteries too used for different reasons. An example of one of these lotteries is when the elitists of Rome threw dinner parties and carried out draws afterwards where various lavish prizes could be won. However, there have been suspicions that the biggest and best prizes somehow were awarded to the most influential member of the group – and not by chance.

In later years, lotteries became slightly more advanced and accessible to the public. This happened when Augustus Caesar created a lottery for all citizens of Rome where they could purchase “lottery tickets”.  The prizes available to win where the selection of the treasures the Roman army had returned with them back from their latest conquest. Some of the money generated from this lottery was used to help fund the maintenance and conservation of the public streets and buildings of Rome.

Lotteries during the middle-ages

Then, during the 15th Century, Belgium and the Netherlands welcomed lotteries in their countries. This is when the word ‘lot’ came about. As the lotteries became better established, lotteries were created in Italy. The funds raised were used when for Milan when Milan went to war against Venice.

The type of lottery invested for Genoa, entitled of a random draw to decide which 5 of the 90 council members would be selected for offers. Citizens would bet on the outcome of this. This lottery occurred only twice a year. However, as the organisers realised how popular this lottery became with the people of Genoa, they replaced the councillors’ names with numbers. This created the first number-based lottery. To this day, the Italian SuperEnalotto draws 6 numbers from 90 to determine the winning selection.

Then, when the first lottery in England came about, it had rules and exceptions that other countries did not carry out with their lotteries.

The total prize pool was exactly the same as the price paid for all of the lottery tickets, however, the top prizes were greater in value than the others. Even though the lottery was very pricey at the time it certainly was made that way to attract a certain group of society. This is because anybody who bought a ticket was automatically exonerated of any (non-violent) crime they had ever committed! We can be thankful that this rule does not exist anymore…

Early American lotteries

Countries including Spain and France were also quick to jump on the lottery wagon, however, the relatively new country of America was extremely early to the lottery world. 

As early as 1655 the settlement of New Amsterdam, famously known as New York, created a lottery where players had to try figure out how many bibles were sold in the town over a particular period of time. Many of America’s founding fathers – including, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and historical institutions such as Yale, Harvard, Rockerfeller Centre - were involved with or funded by organised lottery! Who would’ve thought?!

The Irish Sweepstakes

A couple of years after Ireland declared independence from Britain, Ireland launched a lottery famously known as the Irish Sweepstakes which was found to be controversial. The reason behind this initiative was to raise money for the underfunded hospitals of Ireland. And due to the local population not being substantial enough to do so through purchasing lottery tickets, these tickets were also sold in the UK and America.

As this coincided with the years of the Great Depression in America, the tales of Irish Sweepstake winners became a gleam of light and hope during difficult circumstances. However, even though this lottery was generating millions of dollars, suspiciously only a small amount was actually going towards and funding the improvement of damaged hospitals, while the organisers of the lottery in Ireland were becoming richer and richer.

In 1987 the Irish Sweepstakes was finally replaced by the National Lottery in Ireland, with the Irish Lotto still a well-loved draw around the world and now available to bet on the UK with Lottoland!

The oldest lotteries still played today

The Dutch National Lottery is the oldest lottery which is still very popular and has been well loved since the first draw that took place in 1726 in The Hague.

Coming in at second place is Spain’s ‘El Gordo’ – which literally translate to ‘the fat one’ - which has taken place every December since 1812.  Today it is now one of the biggest lotteries in the world with an estimated 75 per cent of the population purchasing a share of a ticket each Christmas in the hope of winning the jackpot which normally reaches to hundreds of millions of euros! A very merry Christmas indeed.

Can I bet on these lotto’s from the UK?

The answer is yes!

Lotteries continue to grow rapidly in countries all around the world in the 21st century. From the massive US Powerball to the Polish Lotto to the hugely popular Irish Lotto,  lotteries continue to attract as much interest and excitement as ever. This is why all these lotteries are available at Lottoland UK today plus many more!

So, check out and see which lotto calls your name. Lottoland also offers Lotto syndicates to make betting even more interesting at the same time as increasing your chances of becoming the next winner!