History of the lotto in Australia

The origin of lottery in Australia has a deep history, stretching all the way back to the late 1800’s, with each Australian state introducing its own laws and lotteries at different times, resulting in a colourful history for Australian lotto.

Lottery was first introduced to our country during the 1880’s, when the first ever privately operated sweepstake took place in Sydney. As prohibition took over, this lottery made its way from New South Wales to Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania, paving the way for the Golden Casket Lottery and soon after, Tatts Lotto, the main Australian lotto organisation in operation today.

History of the Golden Casket Lottery

The Golden Casket Lottery was first held in Queensland in 1916 and is now recognised as one of the largest lottery organisations in the world. It came to be owned by the Queensland Government in 1920 and such was its popularity that it increased the Government’s budget by 2% within just one year of operation.

The first ever Golden Casket Lottery draw was the suggestion of the Entertainment Committee of the Queensland Patriotic Fund, intending to use the lottery as a way to raise funds for World War One veterans. The jackpot prize was £5,000 in solid gold (as cash prizes were prohibited by law) which back then was the equivalent to 30 years of a full time salary.

The gold prize was displayed in a small jewellery box known then as a casket, which is how the lottery gained its name. The first draw took place at Brisbane Festival Hall (now known as the Brisbane Stadium) in June 1917 to an excited audience that included Queensland dignitaries like the Lord Mayor.

All the proceeds from the Golden Casket Lottery went to community and charity groups. Within the first few years of operation the lottery raised huge amounts of money for such causes as the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Fund, building of Anzac Cottages for war widows and their families, The Motherhood, Child Welfare and Hospital Fund, The Royal Women’s Hospital in Brisbane, Red Cross, Queensland University, Surf Life Saving Association and many more. The lottery has had a hugely positive impact on Queensland economy, community and public health system.

In 2007, the Golden Casket Lottery became a fully owned subsidiary of the Tatts Group. Today it gives away over $40 million dollars in prizes each year through its range of lottery games.

History of the NSW Lottery

NSW Lotteries has been in operation for over 80 years, starting in 1930 during The Great Depression when the State Government decided the only way to tackle the states hospital crisis was to conduct a state lottery. This was a time when unemployment was at an all time high, the economy was bust and money was sparse, so the announcement of the lottery received harsh criticism and condemnation from Church groups who saw it as evil, degrading and demoralising.

The government agreed it was an appalling idea, but could see no other way to keep state hospitals in operation. In June of 1931 the Lotteries Act was proclaimed, with hopefuls gathering by the hundreds to purchase tickets at The State Lottery Office. The jackpot prize of that first lotto was £5,000 which was won by a Manly housewife named Eileen Morton.

The NSW Lotteries commission grew larger each year, with bigger prizes and more participants getting in on the action. In November 1957 the Opera House Lottery was introduced, with ticket sales used to finance the building of the iconic Sydney Opera House. The first televised NSW Lotteries lotto draw was held in November 1979 and hosted by Mike Walsh and Karen Pin. The first ever million dollar NSW Lotteries jackpot was won in March of 1980 by a truck driver from the Western Suburbs with four young children.

In 1982 things really started to change for NSW Lotteries. The manual method of drawing marbles from a barrel to determine winning numbers ceased and was replaced with use of an Australian designed Random Number Generator (NSW). This is also the year that the first Instant Scratchies went on sale, offering a jackpot prize of $10K.

The first Oz Lotto was announced in 1994, making history as the first ever national lottery draw. Since then there has been all kinds of changes and developments resulting in the lotteries we know and love today, like Powerball, Lucky 7, the Saturday Lotto and Lotto Strike.

NSW Lotteries became a subsidiary of Tatts Group in 2010, signing an exclusive 40 year operating license for New South Wales lotteries.

History of Tatts Group

The Tatts Group has roots dating all the way back to 1881 thanks to a man named George Adams who ventured alone from England to Australia at the young age of 16 bringing plenty of hope and entrepreneurial skills with him. He worked all kinds of jobs, including bus driver, baker, gold miner, saddler and stock broker but it wasn’t until he was working as a publican in Sydney that he started taking bets on horse races, eventually developing the company Tattersall’s and etching the history of Australian gambling as we know it.

In 1895, the failing Tasmanian economy and the eminent collapse of the Bank of Van Diemen’s Land created the opportunity for a state lottery and the Tasmanian Government sanctioned a move to get George Adams over to Hobart. The result was the implementation of Tattersall’s Grand Lottery with a number of the Bank’s major properties as the prizes which was a major success, spreading across multiple Aussie states and the rest is history.

In today’s market, Tatts Group now dominates all aspects of lotto in Australia, overseeing and distributing lotteries and other games to all states and territories across the country. The company became publicly listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2005. Tatts Group currently owns or leases Tatts Lotteries (Victoria, ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory), Golden Casket (Queensland), NSW Lotteries and SA Lotteries and also plays a big part in sports betting and racing wagering in Australia.

Online lottery tickets

Lotto draws have come a long way since they were first introduced in Australia, with lottery vendors keeping up with emerging technologies and modern demands by starting to roll-out online lottery service. Players can now pick their lucky numbers and buy lotto tickets online, either by taking part in the lotto draws themselves or using unique services like LottoLand where players are technically betting on the outcome of a lottery draw instead of participating in the draw itself, while still being eligible for the same jackpots. Playing lotto games online is a convenient option for those who don’t live near a regular lotto outlet or simply prefer the ease of online play.

Want to see for yourself how easy it is to play lotto online? Head to OzLotteries where you can buy tickets to Oz Lotto, Powerball, the Monday, Wednesday and Saturday X-Lottos, The Pools and multiple charity lotteries.