Kentucky Historical Society
Early Kentucky Lottery Machine Now on Display at KHS
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 19, 2010)— Visitors to the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) can now view the lottery machine used to conduct the first legal lottery drawing of the 20th century. The machine is currently on display at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in downtown Frankfort. It will be available to the public through June 30, 2010.
The Beitel Criterion machine was widely seen on televised lottery drawings from 1989 to 1993. The machine and related artifacts were donated to KHS late last year by the Kentucky Lottery Corporation (KLC).
"It's pretty amazing to have a machine you worked with for years now standing in a museum," said KLC Vice President of Communications Chip Polston. He spent 10 years as a lottery drawing host, announcing the numbers from the ball selected by the device. "The machine stood in our lobby for many years, and based on how many people coming in and out of our building would stop to check it out, I'm confident visitors to the museum will enjoy seeing this piece of Kentucky Lottery history."
Until the Beitel company was absorbed by another corporation, its draw machines were used in 40 countries from South Africa to Iceland. A Beitel machine is still used by the National Basketball Association (NBA) for its player draft lottery.
Lotteries have deep historical roots in Kentucky. Early lotteries supported local institutions or civic improvement projects. In 1790, the Virginia legislature allowed Transylvania Seminary to raise monies this way. Lotteries flourished, but came under growing criticism as they increasingly were used for private gain rather than public good. Reformers worked to revoke lottery privileges and succeeded in 1891. This prohibition lasted nearly 100 years.
In 1988, Kentucky legislators called for a vote to lift the lottery ban. On Nov. 5, 1988, voters approved a state lottery and the Kentucky Lottery Corporation (KLC) was established. Kentuckians began purchasing gaming tickets in spring 1989. By the end of the year, KLC had instituted a numbers game using randomly selected numbered balls to determine winners.
Lottery materials donated to KHS by the KLC include the original draw machine, a pull-tab vending machine, a Kentucky Lottery sign and an oral history from a long-time KLC employee.
“These artifacts help tell the story of a sometimes controversial subject in our state’s history,” said Kent Whitworth, KHS executive director. “Visitors can now see the machine up close and hopefully learn a little more about our Kentucky’s history with the lottery in the process. KHS is grateful to the lottery corporation for donating these materials and they will now be preserved for future generations.”