A lottery is a game of chance in which players have an equal opportunity to win prizes. Lotteries have provided entertainment and public funds for centuries. The first state-organized lottery with cash prizes was in Italy in 1530. The idea soon spread to England and, in the early 1600s, crossed the Atlantic with the first settlers.
In America, the first lottery was held in Jamestown in 1612, and provided half the budget for the town's settlers. George Washington used a lottery to support the Revolutionary Army, and Thomas Jefferson used lotteries to fund public projects.
Before taxation, lotteries were especially popular in the South, which, like other regions of the country, used the proceeds to fund construction of bridges, toll roads and schools. From 1790 until the Civil War, lottery proceeds funded the construction of 300 schools, 200 churches and 50 colleges, including Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
The first lotteries in Georgia were authorized in 1784 and 1785 to raise money for a hospital and poorhouse for seamen in the city of Savannah. Several more were authorized between 1790 and 1839 for the same purpose in Savannah, and for a variety of public works projects, including a courthouse in Screven County, construction of streets in Milledgeville and a fire company in Augusta.
The first modern state-operated lottery was authorized in 1964 in New Hampshire. Proceeds went to support education. Today, lotteries are legally operated in 42 states, plus the District of Columbia, and revenues fund a variety of initiatives, including education, transportation, prison construction, economic development, environment and natural resources programs, and senior citizens centers.
As the number of lotteries grew, technology has grown to accommodate the industry's expansion. Players now have a choice of various on-line (computerized) games that process and record plays in seconds or instant ticket games that allow them to determine whether or not they are winners instantly.
On-line games let players pick from a range of numbers, according to the game's format, and play multiple times for one day or to play a certain number of draws in advance. One play usually costs one dollar. Tickets for on-line games are printed by on-line terminals that are connected to a central computer system that also validates tickets as winners or non-winners. Winning numbers for on-line games are chosen in televised drawings and are recorded in the central computer system.
In the last twenty years, instant ticket products were introduced adding a whole new dimension of game options. These tickets allow players to scratch a protective coating from a ticket, match the symbols according to the game rules printed on the ticket, and instantly determine if they have won. Instant tickets come in a variety of themes, prizes, colors, shapes and prices.
As the industry has continued to grow, multi-jurisdictional alliances have formed to offer players larger prizes. They were designed to offer players an opportunity to win even larger jackpots.
While the United States remains the largest country of lotteries, they are quickly growing all over the world. Their spread can be attributed to the fact that they have become a popular leisure activity and have provided crucial funding for governments and public causes. The UK National lottery launched in 1994 is a good example of a very popular game that has become one of the world's best-selling lotto type games.
Worldwide, lotteries extend over the continents of Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and are also in Latin America and Canada. The first multi-national lottery, Viking Lotto, was introduced in 1992 by five participating Scandinavian countries.
The Georgia Lottery was created in November 1992 by the people of Georgia to enhance education funding. The Lottery for Education Act created the Georgia Lottery Corporation (GLC) to oversee and operate the lottery. Rebecca Paul was hired in February 1993 as president of the GLC, and four months later, on June 29, the Georgia Lottery was launched. First-week sales of more than 52 million tickets set a new opening-week lottery sales record of $7.80 per capita.
Within five months, the Lottery met its first-year sales goal of $463 million, and ended its first full year in operation with $1.1 billion in total sales. The Lottery's first-year per capita sales of $164.81 set a new national record, surpassing the previous mark of $128 set by Florida in 1988, effectively making the Georgia Lottery the most successful start-up state lottery ever.
That success enabled the Georgia Lottery in its inaugural year to return $362 million to the state of Georgia for education -- more than double the original estimate. In its second year, the Georgia Lottery recorded $1.7 billion in total sales, with more than $500 million going to education. The Georgia Lottery continued to break industry trends by increasing sales for twelve consecutive years.
The GLC has experienced unprecedented sales and returns to education in its 21-year operation. The Board of Directors of the Georgia Lottery Corporation named Margaret DeFrancisco as President of the GLC in December 2003.
To date, the GLC has transferred more than $16.7 billion to the students of Georgia. This money has allowed more than 1.7 million students to go to college in Georgia on HOPE Scholarships, more than 1.4 million four-year olds to begin their education early in Pre-K, and has enhanced educational facilities with advanced technology preparing our students for the future. While the GLC's function is to raise funds for education projects, the revenue generated is allocated and distributed to these projects by the Governor and the General Assembly.
Georgia Lottery Corporation proceeds are used to supplement, not supplant, traditional educational funding. According to a recent report issued by the State Auditor, general fund appropriations to education have increased since the Lottery's inception. Therefore, total state spending on education has increased significantly since the Lottery was started.