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State-approved lotteries around the country generate about one percent of state revenue, which may not sound like much, but it has two significant effects. First, the money raised by lotteries undermines public support for taxes to pay roads, schools, and other important services. Second, the regressive nature of lotteries deducts a considerable part of lower-income individuals’ earnings. This is not a new issue; lotteries have always been backward throughout history.

In the fourteenth century, the Low Countries used a lottery to raise funds for city defenses. Lotteries were regularly used as a source of money by the Founding Fathers, including John Hancock, who built Boston’s Faneuil Hall, and George Washington, who built a passage over a mountain pass.

Beginning in the 1800s, a number of moral, religious, and cultural difficulties hampered the expansion of lotteries. Devoted Protestants who believed gambling was immoral comprised a sizable element of the opposition, as did others who were concerned that dishonest officials would pilfer funds.

However, as time progressed, more and more states saw that lotteries would be an excellent way to supplement their budgets. The late twentieth-century tax revolt, which produced a wave of constitutional modifications targeted at lowering property taxes, erupted into a tidal wave that destroyed state governments as well.