Lotteries are an excellent way to raise funds for many different public purposes. In the 17th century, they were popular in the Netherlands, where they collected money for poor people and provided a tax alternative. The oldest lottery, the Staatsloterij, was founded in 1726 and continues to this day. The word lottery is derived from the Dutch noun “lot,” meaning “fate.”
Prizes offered by lottery have long been part of American history. In the seventeenth century, Benjamin Franklin founded a lottery to raise money to buy cannons for the defense of Philadelphia. He also sponsored several lotteries that offered prizes in the form of “Pieces of Eight”. In 1769, George Washington helped run a slave lottery that offered land and slaves as prizes.