New Hampshire Lottery Policy


Lottery is a type of gambling in which players purchase tickets for chances to win prizes ranging from cash to goods and services. State lotteries are widely accepted as a legitimate source of revenue and, since New Hampshire began the modern era of state-run lotteries in 1964, they have become a widespread and popular means for raising money for public purposes. Unlike other forms of gambling, however, lottery revenues tend to be based on the voluntary spending of people who choose to participate in a lottery rather than a tax on all citizens or business activity. As such, there is a clear conflict between the desire to maximize lottery revenues and the state’s responsibility to protect the welfare of its citizens.

Lotteries were first introduced in Europe during the 1500s by Francis I of France, whose campaigns in Italy led him to realize the potential of this form of fundraising for state coffers. The popularity of lotteries grew quickly, allowing governments to expand social safety nets without increasing taxes on the lower-income classes.

Critics of state-run lotteries have focused on the ways in which they promote addictive gambling behavior, argue that they are a major regressive tax on lower-income groups, and generally operate at cross-purposes with the state’s duty to protect its citizens. Some have even argued that lotteries encourage illegal gambling and contribute to societal problems such as crime and drug abuse. These concerns have changed the context in which lottery policy is debated, shifting the focus from whether it is desirable for states to raise money through lotteries to how best run them.