The first recorded lottery to offer tickets for sale with prizes in the form of money were held in the coastal Low Countries of north western Europe in the 15th century.
Towns would hold public lotteries to raise money for town fortifications, and to help the poor.
A record dated May 9, 1445 at Sluis in the south-western part of the Netherlands actually refers to raising funds to build walls and town fortifications, with a lottery of 4,304 tickets and total prize money of 1,737 Dutch guilders (worth about $170,000 in 2014 US dollars).
By the 17th century it was quite usual in the Netherlands to organize lotteries to collect money for the poor or in order to raise funds for all kinds of public usages.
These lotteries proved very popular and were hailed as a painless form of taxation.
Today, the Dutch state-owned Staatsloterij is the oldest running lottery.
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