When you hear the word “lottery,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
A. People gambling who are very bad at math.
B. Going to the store to buy a paper ticket only to lose it one hour later.
C. A socially conscious fundraiser that goes a long way towards supporting state schools.
My guess is that you didn’t choose “C.”
Lotteries raise millions for state priorities such as schools and parks, but the traditional lottery system is old school, low tech, and needs a serious branding overhaul.
Lotteries and raffles are the oldest form of fundraising for social good. They were common in various forms in the 19th century, but by the early 20th century they became associated with poor communities and had been illegalized in this country. Not until 1964, when New Hampshire became the first state to start looking at lotteries as a way to raise state funds without raising taxes, were state constitutional amendments passed to usher in the modern state lottery throughout the United States.
Not much has changed since 1964 when it comes to playing the lottery. Nowadays, you buy print tickets at the corner 7-11 and then try not to lose or damage the flimsy things before the winner is announced. You have to personally check local news to get the results, and then manually cash in your winning tickets. You put together lottery pools at the office and then have to xerox all of the tickets and highlight the numbers by hand to create an ad-hoc spreadsheet. Hopefully, there’s no confusion about who bought what so that if you win, you’re not facing a lawsuit from your co-workers. The whole system is the furthest thing from efficient.