Winning the lottery is an irresistible dream—despite its unlikeliness—for the 33 million Americans who try their luck each week. The modern era of state-operated lotteries began in 1964 in New Hampshire. In the last fifty-nine years, all but five states have established lotteries.
For a Dollar and a Dream: State Lotteries in Modern America by Jonathan D. Cohen (Oxford University Press, 2022) is a comprehensive study of American lotteries. Cohen asserts that just as individuals pin their hopes and dreams on winning an enormous jackpot, policymakers gamble on lotteries, too, to generate a new source of revenue for sagging budgets without raising taxes.
Minnesota was the 33rd state to establish a lottery. Minnesotans approved a constitutional amendment to allow a state-run lottery in 1988 with a 58 percent majority. The Minnesota State Lottery began selling tickets a year and a half later.
The most recent Minnesota Lottery Annual Report states that Minnesota Lottery winners took home $470 million in prizes in fiscal year 2022 and generated $172.6 million for the state. The funds go toward programs dedicated to the protection and preservation of Minnesota’s environmental and natural resources and to responsible gambling programs. The Lottery annual reports provide basic financial figures for each year since it was established.
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