Lottery retailers receive a commission on each ticket sold. In return, they keep a certain percentage of the total sales. Most states also offer incentive-based programs to encourage retailers to sell more tickets. In Wisconsin, for instance, retailers are rewarded with bonuses if they increase ticket sales. Since the program’s implementation in January 2000, lottery retailers have been rewarded for boosting ticket sales. But what is the history behind the lottery retailers’ compensation?
Early American lotteries were simple raffles
Before the modern lottery, lotteries were often just simple raffles. The first recorded lottery slips are from the Han Dynasty, dating between 205 and 187 BC. According to legend, they were used to fund major government projects. Chinese book of songs mentions a lottery as “drawing wood” or “drawing lots.”
Per capita spending
In 2012, Americans spent about $382 on lottery tickets per capita, according to the Census Bureau. The amount varies greatly, however. In Baltimore city, for example, the average lottery player spent $579. Prince George’s and Charles counties spent $529 each, and Garrett County, Maryland, spent only $107.
Problems facing the lottery industry
In 1998, the Council of State Governments found that almost all lotteries are administered by the state lottery board. Only four were run by quasi-governmental corporations. In Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana, the lottery board had direct control over the lottery. Attorney general offices and state police have discretionary authority over the lottery’s operations, and the lottery’s regulation varies by state. This is an example of the problem-solving capacity of government.