If you’re unfamiliar with the lottery, this article will give you a quick rundown of the basics. Learn about the history of this gambling game, its characteristics, and the economic impact. Next, learn about its regressivity among lower-income groups. You’ll be amazed by the sheer number of people who have a chance to win. And don’t forget to check out our new infographic! All you need to do to get started is click here.


Lotteries are often government-sponsored alternative to illegal gambling, and are played by people who match a set of numbers or symbols. Lotteries date back to biblical times, and in the sixteenth century they were used to finance the construction of roads, canals, courthouses, and more. Today, a lot of states have lottery programs, and there is little evidence that these games are abhorrent to religious or moral beliefs.


The first recorded lotteries offered money prizes to ticket holders. In the 17th century, Dutch towns held public lotteries to raise money for public projects and poor people. While the game may be older, it was hailed as a relatively painless taxation method. The oldest continuously running lottery is the Staatsloterij of the Netherlands, founded in 1726. The word lottery is derived from the Dutch noun, “lotterij”, meaning “fate.”

Economic impact

The economic impact of the lottery is well documented. While it is controversial whether the game contributes to the economy, it does support a wide range of public programs and services. In fact, lottery players contributed $81.6 billion to the economy in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The numbers aren’t all positive, however. Lottery proceeds are used to fund public sector projects and raise funds for various charities. For many people, the economic impact of the lottery is largely positive, despite its critics.

Regressivity of participation among lower-income people

The regressivity of participation among lower-income people may not be as straightforward as you might think. There are differences in the proportions of people who attend town hall meetings, submit evaluations, and receive government services. The results of one study showed that participation rates were positively related to tax ID. Households with tax IDs were four percentage points more likely to participate in a town hall meeting and to submit an evaluation. When adjusting for enumerator and collector fixed effects, these associations remained positive. However, the coefficients are not statistically significant.

Economic benefits to the poor

The economic benefits of the lottery for the poor are many. It can fund projects that help the homeless and people in poverty achieve better living standards. For example, money from lottery sales can go to schools that provide additional educational opportunities for low-income kids. Children in such schools can attend the Promise Academy, which offers after-school tutoring and additional classes on Saturdays. They can take remedial courses in math and English language arts. The lottery money can also be used for student incentives.