The Official Lottery and Politics

The official lottery started out in the seventeenth century as a way to raise money for a wide variety of purposes. The Dutch, in particular, made it a regular practice to use the lottery to fund town fortifications and even to provide charity for the poor. Lottery games continued to thrive, becoming an integral part of state life and widely embraced as a painless form of taxation.

But in the nineteen-sixties, a growing awareness of all the money to be made by gambling collided with a crisis in state funding. As a result of a swelling population and inflation, balancing budgets became increasingly difficult for many states that had developed generous social safety nets. At the same time, politicians faced a dilemma: They could either raise taxes or cut services. Both options were highly unpopular with voters.

In response, some legislators turned to the lottery. Cohen argues that in the early years of the lottery’s evolution, these politicians viewed it as “budgetary miracles: an opportunity for states to make revenues appear seemingly out of thin air.” This was especially true in states with no sales or income taxes and little appetite for raising them. The idea was that a lottery could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, thereby relieving state governments of the need to ever raise taxes again.

Once this myth was discredited, however, lottery advocates switched tactics. Instead of claiming that a lottery would float an entire state’s budget, they began to argue that it would cover a single line item—usually education but occasionally elder care or public parks. This narrower approach helped them to avoid the charge that a lottery was nothing more than a tax on the working class.

Moreover, it allowed them to promote their products in a way that did not appear to endorse gambling. For example, New York’s first slogan was “Your Chance of a Lifetime to Help Education.” As a result, a large portion of the proceeds from the lottery go toward educational purposes.

Lottery players must be 18 years old or older to participate. Play responsibly and never gamble more than you can afford to lose. If you feel that your gambling is out of control, please call 2-1-1 or visit GamblerND.

Download the free official NY Lottery mobile app to track your winnings, find retailers and more! You can also sign up for PA Lottery text messages. Msg & data rates apply.

Play fun, instant win games on your phone or tablet! Just be sure to not use it while crossing the street, operating motor vehicles or chain saws.

You can now get your Pennsylvania state lottery results, draw history and more right on your mobile device. You can even use the app to buy tickets at participating retailers in Pennsylvania.

If you are interested in playing Pennsylvania lottery games online, you can register with the state’s online casino to get started. You will need a valid email address and a personal identification number (PIN) to get started. Once you have a valid email and PIN, you can start playing your favorite instant win games on the go!