In New York, the official lottery is run by the state government. Since 1967, the New York Lottery has raised over 34 billion dollars in revenue for education. However, the state is now in a financial crisis. Many are wondering whether the lottery is a good source of revenue or if it is time to repeal it.
In the beginning, the lottery was used to raise money for colonial ventures – such as the Virginia Company of London’s attempt to establish Jamestown in 1616 – and private lotteries were popular despite strict Protestant proscriptions against gambling. The lottery spread to England’s colonies and helped subsidize the American Revolution; it also played a significant role in financing early American institutions, including churches, libraries, and some of the country’s most prestigious colleges, such as Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, and Columbia.
For politicians facing budget problems, Cohen explains, lotteries were a kind of “budgetary miracle.” By offering citizens the opportunity to win large sums by spending a small amount on tickets, lottery games allowed them to maintain public services without raising taxes. For a generation, critics from across the political spectrum dismissed lotteries as morally questionable and corrupt. Devout Protestants especially feared that state-sponsored lotteries would encourage gambling among the faithful; as a result, they tended to oppose them even more vigorously than other opponents.
Those who play the lottery should be aware of the risks associated with gambling and use their own best judgement on how much to spend. If you feel like you’re becoming addicted, please seek help from a professional.