There are 44 states that operate a lottery. Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands also run their own lotteries. Only Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and Utah do not have a state lottery. However, players in those states can still play the Mega Millions and Powerball games. In fact, these two games are considered to be the de facto national lottery games.
In the 17th century, lotteries were common in the Netherlands. They were intended to raise funds for the poor and were also a popular tax alternative. The oldest running lottery, the Staatsloterij, was established in 1726. The word “lottery” is derived from the Dutch noun “lot”, meaning “fate”. Throughout history, lotteries have become an important part of culture, from the Middle Ages to the present.
Many local governments have also developed lottery-style games, called e-games. These online games are similar to traditional instant lottery tickets, but they offer gameplay via the Internet. In New Jersey, the lottery commission has developed games similar to Tetris and CyberSlingo. These games offer the same general odds as traditional lottery tickets.
In colonial America, the Continental Congress used lotteries to raise money for the Colonial Army. Alexander Hamilton wrote that people would be willing to risk small amounts for the chance of substantial gains. In the early 1800s, people also used lotteries to raise funds for public projects such as bridges and roads. In addition, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts used a lottery to fund an expedition against Canada in 1758.