A Short History of Lotteries


There’s nothing quite like playing lotto. Win-or-lose, it’s always a thrill – and for the clever players who learn how to influence the odds; who really understand the game’s ins and outs, it can be a very profitable activity too. In this article we’re going to discuss some of world’s top lotteries. We’ll explore how these games came to play such a big part in the lives of so many people around the globe, and we’ll set out our ideas on how lottery has continued entertaining the masses until this very day.


Lotteries in their current, digitally packaged form seem entirely modern, but as a matter of fact we’ve been drawing lots to allocate prizes since the beginning of recorded history. Rudimentary lotteries were even used to help fund the construction of the Great Wall of China! Europeans took a little while to catch on – lotteries only really made their mark in the West from the late 15th Century onwards.

These early lotteries were often held to fund major state projects, much like many national lotteries today. As much was the case in 1612, when King James I of England founded a lottery to fund investment in the New World colony of Jamestown, Virginia – the first successful British settlement in North America. Lotteries funded some of mankind’s most vital endeavours over this and subsequent periods, from the founding of settlements and public works to wars with rival states.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for lotto. The game fell into disfavour around the 1820s, largely as a result of broader concerns about the moral health of the people. These were religious times, after all.  Lotteries were constitutionally prohibited in a series of states, starting with New York State, and would not reclaim their place in the mainstream until the end of the prohibition era, over a century later.

It should come as no surprise that the State of Nevada was one of the first regions globally to embrace lotteries anew. The ‘Silver State’ legalized casino gambling in the 1930s, enhancing the profile of gambling for public good throughout the United States and across the western world. Over the following decades, more and more nations started allowing lotteries to be held on their soil. Some states are still catching up, but the global consensus overwhelmingly supports lotto as a harmless entertainment and a force for social good.


For over 30 years we have been living through the era of multistate and multination lotteries. By bringing together players, prize funds and organizational expertise from multiple states, these unparalleled lottery events have been able to provide bigger prizes, better gameplay and an altogether different level of excitement compared to traditional national lotteries.

POWERBALL During the 1980s, lottery officials in the US started to explore the possibilities of a multistate approach to lotto, designed to deliver higher jackpots, generate increased public interest and generally reinvigorate the lottery industry. The Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) was formed to make the vision a reality in 1987 – and within just a year the organization had succeeded in launching their first multi-state lotto, Powerball fore-runner, Lotto *America. The game re-launched as Powerball in 1992 and has been going strong ever since. Powerball paid out a world record jackpot of almost $1.6 billion in 2016.

MEGAMILLIONS In 1996, the MUSL followed up on the success of Powerball with the launch of The Big Game – a sister draw with cheaper tickets and steeper odds. The Big Game soon morphed into MegaMillions, the instantly recognizable lottery mega-brand that has delivered many of the biggest jackpots of all time. As well as Powerball, MegaMillions remains one of the planet’s most popular lotteries.

EUROMILLIONS In light of the tremendous popularity of multistate lotto in the US, it was only a matter of time before Europe followed suit with its own multinational offering. EuroMillions launched on 7th of February 2004, offering a tantalizing combination of American-style jackpots and European-style odds. The game started life as a three-way collaboration between the UK, France and Spain, with Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Switzerland and others joining subsequently.

EUROJACKPOT – A rival game, EuroJackpot, launched just a few years ago, which would suggest that multi-national really is going strong in Europe.


The big multi-national lotteries are still going strong, but for lottery players in-the-know, a whole new era of social lotto has arrived, spearheaded by your humble correspondents, LottoSpring.

We’ve taken the best bits of traditional lotto – the thrilling gameplay, the life-changing prizes and the regular chances to win – and applied them to an entirely different situation that allows players to form their own teams, alter their own chances of winning and ultimately, to play for free.

We are sure, that in a few years, everyone will be playing lotto like this.


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