For almost 400 years the lottery has played a significant role in American history. From 1612 to 1621, it provided the colonists at Jamestown about 8,000 pounds a year that helped them pay passage for many of the new settlers. In 1776, a lottery authorized by the Continental Congress brought in revenue that helped offset the high cost of the Revolutionary War.
Lotteries held during the decade following the war allowed Congress to repay foreign and domestic loans made to the United States in the interest of the Revolution. Before, during, and after the war, state legislatures authorized lotteries that paid for the construction of buildings at Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown, and many other prestigious universities. In the 1790s lotteries subsidized state and private buildings in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York.
For the next century lotteries built roads, bridges, railroads, and schools, as well as helping the poor, elderly, and destitute. Although lotteries were banned in the first half of the twentieth century because of isolated cases of fraud and abuse, community leaders and citizens never lost sight of the potential benefits of the lottery. In 1964, the lottery, protected by stringent legislation, re-emerged and once again this recreational "voluntary tax" provides revenues for public education, senior citizens, transportation, roads, and parks.
Because Scientific Games is a proud representative of the lottery legacy, it is also dedicated to the research, authentication, acquisition, and preservation of historical records and memorabilia pertaining to the lottery.
The Scientific Games Archive is the largest and most comprehensive of historic and modern American lottery memorabilia in private or public hands. It consists of more than 10,000 pieces including tickets, manuscripts, books, pamphlets, advertisements, account records, and personal letters. We are pleased to offer these exhibits from our collection here, in the online Lottery Museum.
[back to top]