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LOTTERY CONQUERS the world

03&04
DEC. '21
Bruges

WHAT HAPPENED IN BRUGES IN 1441 AND STILL LIVES ON TODAY?

THE FIRST DOCUMENTED LOTTERY, WHICH ALSO BORE THE NAME ‘LOTTERY’
AND HAD THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A PRESENT-DAY LOTTERY,
TOOK PLACE IN BRUGES IN 1441.

THE GAME WOULD LATER CONQUER THE WORLD UNDER THIS NAME AND IN THIS FORM.

This means lotteries are 580 years old this year, and they were invented in Belgium. The National Lottery, and our players, are the proud heirs to this fact, so we want to celebrate this anniversary with an unforgettable four-day event in the lottery's global birthplace: Bruges.  

Between 1 and 4 December 2021, we are making an extraordinary exception by bringing the special Extra Lotto and EuroMillions draws to Bruges. You will be able to relive the draw of 1441 during a historical evocation at the Christmas market, complete with tombola, with a chance to win great prizes. We will also treat you to a festive open-air performance of Carmina Burana, and there are city walks for you to experience the atmosphere of the first-ever draw in virtual reality, as well as an exhibition about the origins of the game in medieval Flanders, with an accompanying book being published.

THE STORY
THE LOTTERY,
CULTURAL HERITAGE

An unprecedented initiative in Bruges in the Middle Ages would, unbeknownst to those involved, lay the foundations of what is known around the world as 'a lottery' 580 years later. At the time, Bruges was a thriving metropolis but a hefty fine imposed by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and the costs incurred by frequent rebellions, meant that alternative ways had to be found to fund causes that benefited the community without having to levy additional taxes. Like today, this was not a popular measure in the Middle Ages. The ingenious plan to organise a lottery with various prizes to collect voluntary contributions and use the proceeds to pay for collective needs proved to be a hit. This historic decision nearly 600 years ago would change the European lottery landscape forever.

Read the full story

BRUGES 1441

View the Programme
03&04
DEC. '21
Bruges

"I consider the 1441 lottery as crowdfunding avant la lettre, because what they funded with their draws were initiatives that citizens cared about. In fact, the National Lottery today is a big national raffle where participants play for a small amount of money. You hope to win, but you also know that you are making a nice contribution to a good cause. It means you win, no matter what."

JANNIE HAEK
CEO National Lottery

Photo: Thomas De Boever 

"The first draw had to be something like this: two baskets on a wooden stage, one basket holds all the tickets, with names on them and often a short phrase or verse. The other basket holds blank tickets and tickets with prizes. Since transparency is key, each ticket was drawn - and announced in a loud voice. It must have been an amazing experience."

JEROEN PUTTEVILS
Senior lecturer of Medieval History, University of Antwerp

Photo: Thomas De Boever 

"Bruges was the place to be for anyone who was anyone in creative, artistic, or technological circles at the time. It was the central place where raw materials came in and there was plenty of capital to finance projects. In Bruges, all information flows came together, and it was dispersed very quickly. Later, Venetians participated in the draw in Bruges, and vice versa. Using the existing networks, the lottery emerged as an international event." 

JAN DUMOLYN
Professor of Medieval History, University of Ghent

Photo: Thomas De Boever
JANNIE HAEK
CEO National Lottery

Photo: Thomas De Boever 
JEROEN PUTTEVILS
Senior lecturer of Medieval History, University of Antwerp

Photo: Thomas De Boever 
JAN DUMOLYN
Professor of Medieval History, University of Ghent

Photo: Thomas De Boever