The History of Lottery

Lottery is a short story by Shirley Jackson that deals with blindly following traditions. The plot takes place in a small village, where the residents annually hold a lottery to decide their fates. Despite the fact that they know it will end in death, they continue with this ritual.

The concept of determining ownership or other rights by casting lots is recorded in ancient history and is often seen as a precursor to the law of chance. However, the casting of lots to decide on material benefits is generally considered to have begun with the first public lotteries in the Low Countries during the fifteenth century. These were held to raise money for town fortifications and to help the poor.

Today, state lotteries are widely accepted and enjoy broad public support. Although debate and criticism of lotteries tend to focus on alleged negative impacts (e.g., compulsive gambling), the development of new games has also prompted concerns about the effect on low-income groups and other issues of public policy.

Regardless of their specific mechanisms, all modern lotteries have some common elements. First, they must provide a means for identifying the bettor’s identity and the amount staked. This may involve requiring the bettor to write his or her name on a ticket, depositing it with the lottery organization for later shuffling and selection in a drawing, or buying a numbered receipt that is deposited with the organization for later examination to determine whether it was among the winners. Many, but not all, state lotteries publish these statistics after the draw.

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Cape Town, South Africa