Examples from different categories
where a lottery is being used to share out our Common Wealth
-----Permits and Tickets--
China, Private School Places 2019 (183)

India, Dehli Nursery places 2013 (154)

India, AndhraPadesh, school places 2010 (138)

StPetersburg FL NoSiblings 2010 (136)

Newark NJ, Charter school places 2009 (121)

Bristol, England 'draw straw' 2009 (116)

Korea Private school places 2008 (112)

Ventura, Calif. Kindergarten places 2009 (111)

Baltimore, Maryland Boarding school places 2008 (108)

Glasgow UK primary school places 2008 (119)

Hertfordshire UK School Places 2007 (95)

Lady Margaret Sch London 2008 (120)

Brighton&Hove LEA 2007 (94)

London Haberdasher's Aske's school places 2005 (70) Letter in Independent

Charlotte-Mecklenburg NC schools 2003- (83)

Tel Aviv school choice 2003- (84)

Chicago School entry 2003 (10)

Eastwood School Essex UK 2000 (117)

Dayton school vouchers 2000 (52)

Burnley Lancs School places 1994 (21)

Milwaukee school vouchers 1990s (62)

Columbia private school vouchers 1991 (67)
North Carolina AcadTechnology 2017 (180)

Paris Medical School places 2016 (175)

India Dehli CollegeCommerce places

Netherlands, Maastricht Economics course 2004 (77)

Netherlands Medical School 1972-present (01) (links to an external site)

Ireland NUI university 2005 (13)

Huddersfield and Leeds M Uni - Physiotherapy courses 2004 (09)

London QMC Post-grad medical school 2003 (36)

California Cuesta Nursing College 1997 (30)

Netherlands post-grad medical school 1989 (40)
Tickets for 2024 European Football Cup

Tickets to a Broadway show Nov 2015

Moose hunting licence, Maine 2013

Ticket for Obama v Romney debate 2012 (150)

Wolf Hunt Wisconsin 2012 (149)

Los Angeles, Michael Jackson mem'l concert 2009 (122)

Ireland: Winter Solstice at Newgrange 2007 (101)

Maine Moose Hunt (2006 update) 56

Germany: World Cup 2006 tickets (85)

Vienna - New Year's Day Concert 2007 (75)

Live 8 Charity concert July 2005 (71)

Berkshire MA choral place 2005 (68)

Idaho Whitewater rafting 2004 (54)

St Andrews play golf 2005 (53)

Wimbledon tennis championship 2005 (39)

Massachusetts (W) Elderhostel courses 2005 (65)

Florida Hunt hog, deer, quail 2005 (64)

Queen's Golden Jubilee Concert 2002 (72)

Colorado Hunt sheep goats moose bear elk 2000 (55)

Utah Hunt buffalo, big-horned sheep 1979 (41)

PermitToGoOn-Hajj 2022 (196)

HousingVoucher NCarolina 2024 (199)

India Mumbai Housing for encroachers 2011 (155)

Chicago: Social Housing 2010 (134)

Swansea UK Beach Huts 2007 (100)

UK Flat-pack IKEA homes 2007 (98)

CF Stanford U student housing 2006 (90)

LSE London Graduate Accom. 2005 (74)

Athens Olympic apartments 2004 (31)

Dartmouth (US) University housing 2000 (18)

Boston social housing ~1990 (15)

Hong Kong - social housing 1984 (32)

Australia Housing Co-op 1950s (79)
Amish Ministers USA 2020 (188)

Relief Work Pretoria South Africa 2019 (186)

Police selection Long Island NY 2016 (174)

RickshawDrivingPermit Mumbai 2014

US NC 2014 KeepJobConditions

Spain 2012 local Jobs (151)

Eygpt Coptic Pope 2012 (152)

Edinburgh - Sack Binmen 2012 (147)

India: Women-only constituencies 2010 (133)

TaxiLicence Stockport England 2010 (182)

Oregon Teacher layoffs 2009 (123)

US: Courts: Assignment of Cases 2008 (114)

Tibet: Bhuddist abbots drawn from golden urn 2008 (103)

Gloucestershire Police: Random Shortlisting 2006 (89)

Nepal: Work visa for Korea 2004 (78)

US/Canada NHL new ice hockey player selection 2005 (76)

Northern Ireland - Court messenger jobs shortlisting 2005 (73)

USA Green Card entry 2005 (07)

China Lungang - sacking 2004 (16)

UK quango members 2002 (48)

Drug Tests in UK Army 1995 (118)

Poland managers in privatisation 1995 (60)

UK NHS shortlisting for jobs 1994 (66)

Wolverhampton sacking 1991 (63)

US Minneapolis: Shortlist for Firefighter's Jobs 1984 (114)

Slough taxi licence withdrawal 1972 (61)

Sell medical cannabis RI US Dec 2019 (187)

Covid Vaccine Manatee, Florida Feb 2021(190)

Research Grants NZ et. el. Nov 2019 (184)

EU decides where Agencies located to replace London(181)

License to Sell Cannabis Arizona Dec 2016 (176)

LiquorShopLicenseJaipurIndia 2016 (173)

Water Give-away in South Dakota 2014 (169)

Liquor License Lottery 2014 Florida (168)

Malden Mass: Graves 2010 (135)

Chatanooga: Wood pieces 2009 (129)

India, 'padu' sharing fisheries 2004 (17)

UK Dialling Codes - directory enquiries 2002 (08)

NY laGuardia Airport Slots 2001 (6)

US Drugs for MS 1994 (14)

US oil drilling leases 1987 (45)

US Cellular phone licences 1986-9 (69)

LA Dialysis Treatment 1969 (91)

Nissan Figaro 1991 (109)

and some other ways that Lotteries can be (and were) used:


Lotteries are used for gambling, but there are much more interesting ways that lotteries have been used. Remember the way 'drawing lots' was used in Biblical times, to decide a surprising range of things? That's how Jonah finished up in the belly of the Big Fish. That's how they divided the land of Israel in the time of Joshua. When Judas out of remorse killed himself, a replacement Apostle was chosen by 'casting lots'.

—The ancient Greeks, most notably the Athenians, felt that deciding who should rule was best settled by a lottery; indeed that randomly selecting via a lottery is the essence of Democracy - and they should know: they invented the idea! The Romans were less taken by ruling by lot, but had the curious punishment known as decimation - executing one in 10 of an army unit which under-performed, with the victims chosen at random.

—During the Renaissance, cities such as Florence, Venice and Genoa selected rulers, magistrates and other officials by drawing their name from an urn. To this day the tiny Republic of San Marino picks its two rulers-for-a-year, by drawing names from a short-list of 12. The renaissance men consciously modelled themselves on the ancient wisdom, so their use of lotteries in this way is not surprising.

Coram chooses babies for his foundling hospital In 1730 Thomas Coram, a wealthy retired London businessman set up a ‘Foundling Hospital’ – an institution to look after abandoned babies. The babies had to be abandoned by the mother in person, and full records were kept. Coram was soon overwhelmed by the demand for places, and had to institute a lottery: Mothers were invited to draw a ball from a bag. If it was white, the baby was in, red – go on the reserve list. The black ball was for ‘reject’ almost certainly leading to exposure and death. (In Simon Schama’s History of Britain BBC2 3 Nov 2002)
Perhaps you're thinking that using a lottery to decide who should be rewarded or punished is just a historical curiosity, a relic of pre-rational times. Since the Enlightenment, we somewhat arrogantly believe that there is a logical solution to every problem however knotty. There remains one very important bulwark of protection of the individual against the overweening power of the state -the right to

—Trial by jury. Twelve individuals are selected from the population at large to test the truth of the accused's plea of 'not guilty', although deciding any punishment is left to the appointed judge. In civil cases the jury decides the penalties also. How the jury is selected differs slightly in different jurisdictions: In England the doctrine is that the jury is a random selection from the electoral register; in the US the aim is to produce a 'representative' jury.

Apart from juries, 'casting lots' is still used on occasion to decide your fate. Sometimes the bureaucrats run into difficulties and perhaps instinctively reach for a lottery as a way out.

—Selecting young men for military service is one example. In the US during WW II, and again during the Vietnam War, the 'goldfish bowl' was used - a birthday (day, month) was drawn from the bowl, and all the 19-year-olds born on that day were called up. To achieve the required number of enlisted men the draw continued picking as many birthdates as needed. Using a lottery for military service had been used in earlier times too, during Napoleonic and other wars.
(click on link below for more detail about the US militray draft)
Let random chance, not biased human judgement, decide my fate
Site set up and maintained by Conall Boyle For more about me, click on my name.