Official lottery results for New York State, including the Mega Millions and Powerball drawings. Find winning numbers, past winners and more.
Lotteries have a long history in America, and early in its history were, as Cohen puts it, “a mechanism for obtaining voluntary taxes.” They were used to finance everything from town fortifications to church construction to public works projects. The Continental Congress even tried to use a lottery to raise funds for the Revolutionary War, and private lotteries were popular as well.
But when they came to be legalized in the nineteenth century, lottery advocates were promoting a very different vision. They claimed that by filling state coffers with millions in ticket sales, lotteries would allow states to avoid raising taxes and therefore keep money in the pockets of average citizens.
Across the country, politicians began to pass laws allowing lotteries to fund everything from civil defense to public schools. The avowed goal was to provide a broad-based social safety net without having to resort to the politically unpopular alternatives of increasing taxes or cutting services.
But the fantasies of lottery proponents proved to be wildly overblown. In its first year, in New Jersey, for example, the lottery brought in only thirty-three million dollars, a fraction of what its promoters had dreamed about. Lottery revenues have since risen steadily, but they continue to make up a small share of state budgets. They also continue to expose players to the risks of addiction and leave low-income and minority communities behind.