What are ‘Lotteries’?
Lotteries are a form of gambling, usually run by the state, that involves customers buying a ticket with a line of numbers they have chosen themselves in order to win the jackpot. The jackpot is usually claimed when a player matches all of the numbers drawn, but players can win smaller cash prizes if they get four or five of the numbers. On the occasions that no one wins, the jackpot rolls over to the following week.
Lotteries are not a modern phenomenon. The first lotteries, known as Keno, were held under the Chinese Han Dynasty as far back as 100 B.C. Like today’s lotteries, its main purpose was to raise money for social projects. The money made from the Keno was said to have helped fund the Great Wall of China.
The UK National Lottery website gives a breakdown of where its money goes to. In the year ending 31 March 2016, £333 million of the £7.5 billion raised went to retailers, £911 million went to the government, £4.1 billion went to the prize fund, and £1.9 billion was spent on National Lottery projects.
The national lottery funds were shared out to projects as follows: 20% to heritage, 40% to education, health and charities, 20% to arts and 20% to sports. An example of a lottery project is Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North sculpture in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.
Even countries that have banned gambling tend to have a state-run lottery. The Chinese government, for example, allows its people to bet on sport in the sport’s lottery, but not at the bookmakers. While this is a good idea in theory, the illegal gambling industry in China is said to be two times bigger than the National Lottery.