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Premium Bond

In 1956 Prime Minister Harold Macmillan of Great Britain initiated a national lottery to bolster the public interest in English bonds. Britons quickly dubbed him “Mac the Bookie.” A player buys a £1 premium bond which has a number attached, and six months later his bond number is put into an electric machine called an “Ernie.” The player is eligible for a prize in the monthly drawing as long as he holds his bond. The prizes are tax-free. The bond’s interest earnings of 4% all go into the monthly lottery pool. The bond can be cashed at any time for its face value, only the interest being wagered. For every $28,000 in the lottery, there is one tax-free prize of $2,800, two of $1,400, four of $700, ten of $280, twenty of $140 and two hundred of $70.

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New-York Paying Money Lottery

The First Public Money Lottery

The first new york public lottery paying money prizes was La Lotto de Firenze, which began in Florence, Italy, in 1530, and was soon followed I by similar drawings in Genoa and Venice to raise funds for various public projects. This custom spread throughout Italy, and when the Italian republics were consolidated in 1870 the Italian national lottery into being. Except for a few interruptions due to wars, this has been in constant operation ever since. Today, five numbers between 1 and 90 are drawn every Saturday from each of ten wheels identified by the names of Ten Italian Cities. Players may wager as little on their selection of some or all five of the numbers to be drawn from a specified wheel. A player who correctly guesses all five numbers drawn from a named wheel is paid off at odds of 1,000,000 to 1. His chance of doing it is 1 in 43,949,268. Other winning selections are paid off at lesser odds.
My research shows that our early nineteenth-century policy shops and our present-day Numbers game, Lotto, Keno and Bingo are all derived from the Italian national lottery.

The British Lottery Mania

Italians who accompanied Catherine de Medici to France at the time of her marriage to King Henry II in 1533 introduced lotteries into France. The first government-sponsored new york lottery in England was one which Queen Elizabeth announced in 1566 and advertised as very rich Lotteries Generally, without any blanks . . .“ The money raised was to be used “towards the reparation of the havens [harbors] and strength of the Realm and towards such other public good works.” The first prize was worth £5,000—partly cash, partly silver, tapestries and the like. There were 400,000 tickets available at ten shillings each, and since there were no blanks, each buyer received back at least one-fourth of his investment. The Queen also promised that for seven days any ticket buyer would be safe from arrest for anything except major crimes. The ticket sale did not go well, and high- pressure sifting methods had to be used, some of the towns being forced to appropriate public money to buy tickets. The drawing, postponed once, finally began in January 1569, at the west door of St. Paul’s Church.

Royal Lotteries

British colonization of America was financed partly by royal lotteries; the first, authorized by James I in 1612, raised £, 29,000 for the Virginia Company, which was sending settlers to the New World. In 1694 Parliament began using a state lottery as a means of floating a £1 million loan, tickets selling at ten pounds each and the prizes in the form of 16-year annuities. Private lotteries in the next few years were so numerous and there were so many abuses and outright swindles that they were abolished in 1699 by an act of Parliament. They were permitted again in 1710 and again suppressed (except for government lotteries) in 1721. Lotteries promotion in other European countries have a similar history of alternate legality and attempted suppression. A lottery in 1753 raised money that founded the British Museum and by 1755 the lottery mania was so great that mobs of ticket buyers broke down the doors of ticket offices on opening day in their eagerness to buy.

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