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sweepstakes

sweepstakes, contest or race, usually a horse race, on which a lottery is run. Prizes are awarded to the holders of winning tickets. In the case of a horse race, the draw is made from the names of all the horses entered in the race and vast numbers of blanks. Thus most ticket holders draw blanks, while only a few draw the name of a horse. In some sweepstakes, prizes are awarded to persons holding tickets bearing the name of horses that win, place, and show, while in others prizes are given also to those whose tickets bear the names of all the horses that started in the race. In still another form of sweepstakes, the tickets sold bear numbers, some of which are to be assigned to the horses that will run in the race. The term sweepstakes may also refer to the total amount of money contributed. The Irish Hospitals Sweepstakes is probably the most popular in existence today. Because of a scandal over the Louisiana lottery, the U.S. Congress in 1890 passed a law making it illegal in the United States to import, to send through the mails, or to ship in interstate commerce any sweepstakes tickets. In 1963 a legal state sweepstakes lottery was initiated in New Hampshire to provide funds for state education. Other states soon followed with similar lotteries.

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sweepstake

sweepstake a form of gambling, especially on horse races, in which all the stakes are divided among the winners; the word originally (from the late 14th century) meant someone who ‘sweeps’, or takes the whole of, stakes in a game; in figurative usage, someone who took or appropriated everything. From the 15th to the 17th century, Sweepstake was often used as a ship's name.

From the late 18th century, the word meant a prize won in a race or contest in which the whole of the stakes contributed by the competitors were taken by the winner or a limited number of them; the current meaning developed from this.

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sweepstake

sweep·stake / ˈswēpˌstāk/ • n. (also sweepstakes) a form of gambling, esp. on horse races, in which all the stakes are divided among the winners: [as adj.] a sweepstake ticket. ∎  a race on which money is bet in this way. ∎  a prize or prizes won in a sweepstake.

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sweepstake

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