Lotteries in modern Russia are very popular and with each week the number of players increases. Everyone is trying to get a prize. However, before the lotteries became known and loved by Russians, they passed a very long and thorny path of development.
The first-time lottery took place a long time ago, under the tsar Peter I ruling. In 1700, there was an announcement of a new "overseas" game in which you can participate for money and win a substantial prize. The preparation of the drawing was serious: a special commission was created by the tsar himself. The watchmaker Yakov Gasenius conducted the game. To ensure the honesty and transparency of the drawing the children got tickets from the game drum. Two guys took turns taking out tickets, and the watchmaker called the winner, who was coming out of the crowd.
Anyone could take part in the lottery game, regardless of wealth. Information about the exact number of winners is unknown, but the game was very popular. Someone was lucky, and he won often and a lot, someone only invested and did not win anything. Still, the prize payment expenses were costly to the state with no profits. Therefore, this game was not held for long and eventually closed due to unprofitability.
At that time non-state lottery games were banned, but the people liked lotteries so much that they played them secretly. The state in every possible way suppressed such clandestine lotteries, punished the organizers, but it was never possible to completely remove gambling from the life of the Russian people.
This situation lasted until 1745. All this time the lotteries were banned because of the lack of benefits for the state treasury, but the court played them from time to time for fun in a narrow circle and without much publicity.
1745 is the year of the large-scale lottery draw in tsarist Russia. For a small fee, anyone could buy a lottery ticket to get an opportunity for a significant prize winning. The prize fund consisted of things confiscated from the merchant-swindler. The lottery was held to demonstrate to the public the generosity of the tsar fairly dividing among citizens the property acquired dishonestly by the villain.
For the first time at the legislative level, the lotteries were regulated in 1782 by a law called the Charter of Deanery. In this document, the mechanism for calculating the lottery value was clearly defined. Also, it was allowed to held draws to private committees and societies. An obligatory condition of the law was the deduction of the part funds collected to social needs.
Under the Catherine II ruling, the lotteries also continued their development. In 1891, many people were starving because of the crop failure, but lotteries were a help: the lottery draw was held, the profit from which was directed to help needy people. In total, more than 9 million rubles were collected. This event contributed not only to help the needy but also to rally the people: wealthier citizens extended a helping hand to the poor. As a result of the draw, thousands of ordinary people were saved.
Among that time prizes, things were both ordinary and very unusual. Often there were silver or copper cutlery, kitchen utensils. Jewelry, paintings, carpets were rarely at stake. The most unusual prizes at stake were estates or whole villages. Ordinary people did not participate in such lotteries, and this gave impetus to limiting the number of winnings.
Even though Russian tsars don’t like lottery much, ordinary citizens quickly fell in love with the possibility to win much.