Windham Life and Times – June 5, 2020

Windham Mid-Century Modern

April 30, 1964. Gov. John W. King of New Hampshire as he prepared to sign into law today a bill making his state the first in 70 years to sanction a sweepstakes. King , 44, signed the bill over the opposition of Protestant clergyman and other Citizens of the Granite State

The New Hampshire Sweepstakes | Lotteries in America

The investors in the first permanent colony in the Untied States, Virginia, were granted permission to hold a lottery in order to help raise money in 1612. “In 1616, the company sent people on the road to sell tickets in “instant” lotteries outside of the capital. In these small-scale games, people could find out if they won a prize immediately after buying a ticket, similarly to scratch-and-win lotteries today. “To put an incorruptible face on the drawings, they made sure that a child drew the lots from the drums,” writes Matthew Sweeney in The Lottery Wars. These “instant” games were a huge success. Over the next four years, they brought in an estimated £29,000—nearly £8 million today…” “I am of the Company of Virginia, but I hear these lotteries do beggar [impoverish] every country they come into. Let Virginia lose rather than England.’ Public criticism of the lottery grew louder and the King eventually shut down the lotteries.”

Michael Troy at Unlearned History has a detailed account of lotteries in America for anybody who is interested. According to Troy, “Massachusetts Colony held its first lottery in 1745. “The Colony planned to sell 25,000 tickets at a cost of 30s (£1.5) per ticket.  The lottery would be overseen by a Board of Directors made up of leading figures in the colony: Samuel Watts, John Quincy, James Bowdoin, Robert Hale and Thomas Hutchinson…The total amount collected from the sale of all tickets was £37,500.  Prizes ranged from two top awards of £1250, to 5250 awards of £3,15s (about double your money-back). There were a total of 5422 awards, meaning your chances of winning something was about 25%.  To total amount awarded as prizes was £37,500.  But wait, you may ask yourself.  If total tickets sales was £37,500 and total award money was £37,500, how did they make money? The answer is with taxes.  Each award came with a 20% tax, meaning the winner only received 80% of the award amount.  Total collections from taxes would be £7,500, minus the costs of running the lottery.”  Lotteries were used to help fiancé the Revolutionary War, provide extra money for state governments and to fund the establishment of colleges such as Harvard.

“Then, in the 1830’s public opinion began to turn against lotteries. Several lottery scams helped turn public opinion against gambling.  Traditional religious opposition to gambling, combined with social reform movements that saw the cost of gambling with no real societal benefit caused many leaders to decide it was a harm to society that needed to be abolished. In 1833, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York banned all lotteries.  Other States soon followed.  By 1860, only three states still permitted lotteries: Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky. Although it was illegal, many enterprises sold lottery tickets for these States throughout the country. After the Civil War, a federal law made it illegal to use the US mail to distribute lottery tickets….But the reconstruction years were hard times.  In 1868, the Louisiana legislature was desperate for money.  Its notoriously corrupt legislature made a deal with a criminal syndicate from New York to create a State lottery with a 25 year charter, and establishing the syndicate as the sole lottery provider. The Louisiana Lottery became wildly popular throughout the country, despite restrictions on using US mail.  About 90% of its revenues came from out of state sales.  Louisiana soon became the only legal lottery in the US.  Finally in 1895, Congress barred any transmission of lottery tickets across State lines by any means. With out of state sales becoming impossible, the Louisiana lottery was abolished. With the death of the Louisiana Lottery, all States had outlawed lotteries…For nearly three generations, Americans would not have any options to play the lottery legally anywhere in the US.”

“While legal lotteries disappeared, gamblers turned to organized crime for their lottery fix.  The “numbers racket” grew increasingly popular in many cities.  Most of these operated much like the daily lotteries run by States today.  A random three digit number would give a pay out, usually of 600 to 1…Other Americans turned abroad.  The Irish sweepstakes began in 1930.  It derived most of its revenue from US purchases. The importation and sale of such tickets in the US was illegal.  Nevertheless, the Irish Sweepstakes became wildly popular for many years.”  Everything changed in 1964 when the Sweepstakes was legalized in New Hampshire.

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