In the course of researching gambling during the late Victorian era I was surprised to discover that lotteries were used to raise money for the State or other enterprises more than 300 years ago. Manipulation and fraud were rife and over the centuries the state intervened to establish control. At various times the proceeds paid for the water system in the city of London, the original British Museum and in modern times, the Museum’s substantial redesign. As early as 1776 Adam Smith wrote, “The chance of gain is by every man more or less overvalued and the chance of loss is by most men undervalued.” No different to playing the roulette wheel at Monte Carlo, then. And concern for the poor frittering away their limited resources was as strong back then too. In 1807, following his success in pressing for the abolition of the slave trade, William Wilberforce began to speak out against gambling. In 1890 an Anti-Gambling League formed, but to no avail. It seems we all like taking a chance.
Susan Leona Fisher : an author's progress.