In the United States, the lottery is operated by state governments. While these monopolies do not allow commercial lotteries to compete, the lottery’s profits are used to support government programs. As of August 2004, there were forty states with a lottery. By this point, the lottery was entrenched throughout the Northeast. This growth was driven by the state governments’ need for revenue to fund public projects and by the large Catholic population, which generally favored gambling activities.
The first American lottery was conducted by George Washington in the 1760s as a means of funding the mountain road in Virginia. Later, Benjamin Franklin supported the use of the lottery to pay for cannons during the Revolutionary War. In Boston, a man named John Hancock ran a lottery to re-build Faneuil Hall. Despite the positive benefits of lottery funding, opponents base their objections on moral and religious grounds. Although these opponents are unlikely to object to the existence of a state-sponsored lottery, they are often abhorrent to lotteries as a whole.
According to the Council of State Governments, most states operated their own lottery. In 1998, there were more than 186,000 lottery retailers in the U.S., with California, Texas, and New York having the most. About three-fourths of these retailers provide online services. Approximately half of lottery retailers are convenience stores, while the other half include non-profit organizations, gas stations, restaurants, newsstands, and other retail outlets.