History of gambling isn’t something you learn in school, but there are many interesting facts one can stumble upon while exploring its origin. From Europe and Asia to the United States, lotteries helped in shaping peoples’ lives and culture, and building societies that we know of today. The earliest forms of lotto games can be traced as far as 100 BC, and their rich history flourished more and more in the upcoming two millenniums.
1. Lotteries helped in building The Great Wall of China
Keno is believed to be one of the oldest lottery games ever created, since it originated in China during the Han Dynasty. This game is crucial part of this country’s history in more ways than one – according to the legend, the invention of Keno saved an ancient city in time of war, and its widespread popularity helped raise funds to build the Great Wall of China.
2. Voltaire made a fortune rigging the lottery
Before history came to know him as a great Enlightenment philosopher, Voltaire used his wits to make a fortune in an elaborate lottery scheme. During a dinner party in the late 1720s, mathematician Charles Marie de La Condamine proposed buying up the lottery that was organized by the French government, and since he wasn’t doing well financially at the time, Voltaire decided to join in, earning around a million livres.
3. The USA was funded by many lottery projects
The Founding Fathers of the United States are known for many things, but their love for lotteries is rarely mentioned. Benjamin Franklin organized a lottery to raise money for buying cannon for the defence of Philadelphia, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson set up several private lotteries, and during the Revolutionary War lotto projects were used to fund the Colonial Army. Nowadays, there are many lotteries in the US, such as Powerball, MegaMillions, NY Lottery and California Super Lotto.
4. Casanova was a trustee of the first state lottery in France
Everyone knows Casanova as a great seducer, but he was also a big fan of gambling – in his memoirs, Casanova discussed his love for lotteries, faro, basset, piquet – to name a few. He found a way to put his lotto knowledge to some good use by becoming one of the trustees of the first state lottery in France. He later tried to sell his lottery scheme to governments in few other countries, but with no success.