The origins of lottery go back to 205 and 187 B.C., during the Han dynasty in the territory where China is located nowadays. It is believed that the keno game, a game similar to lottery that is still played in modern casinos, appeared in the same period of time. It is even believed that in those times lotteries were used to finance government projects, including one of the most famous projects of all times: the Great Wall of China.
References to lottery have been found in ancient texts from several civilizations, from the ancient China to the Celts and from ancient Greece to The Iliad by Homer. The first European lottery took place in the Roman Empire. At the beginning these lotteries were played just as a way of entertainment in diners organized by nobles. However, there are records about the sale of lottery tickets to collect funds for the city of Rome under the ruling of Caesar Augustus.
In 1434 the first public lotteries started in Denmark. In Flanders (nowadays Belgium, Holland and France) the first lotteries offered cash prizes in several towns a decade later. The goal of these first lotteries for money was to help the poor and collect funds to fortify towns.
By the end of the 16th century the English people started offering lotteries. The first lottery was decreed by Queen Elizabeth I in 1566 but was not played until 1569. This lottery was very different to the ones offered up until that moment since all lottery ticket owners won a prize and the value of the prizes was equal to the money collected with sales.
After this first lottery the government sold the rights to sell lottery to businessmen who hired agents to sell the lottery to the public. Lotteries managed by the government worked in this way until 1826 when the parliament declared the end of lotteries.
However, during the period previous to that decision many private lotteries took place, including one to collect money for the Virgin Company in London to sponsor the Jamestown settlement, the first permanent English settlement in America.