Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lotteries: It's Not Gambling When You Do it This Way, "Elderly Couple Games Lottery, Wins Millions"

Years ago I had a buddy who made one of the the smartest statements regarding gambling that I've ever heard, but first some backround, from 2009's "PowerShares Agiculture (DBA): Farm favorite (MOO)":
Here's a story:
...I was at the track one day, patiently and persistently buying losing tickets when I ran into an acquaintance, a former finance guy who had left the business. With him were four of his eight kids. Did I mention he was a degenerate horseplayer?

Making small-talk with his 10 or 11-year old daughter I asked who she liked in the next race.
She answered "Little Boy Blue" (or somesuch, it was a while ago). Being the condescending know-it-all adult, I asked if she liked it because of his cute name.

Um-hmm she said, that, and he had an unpublished workout, five panels in :59 3/5.

The horse, of course, came in. Paid 6:1, made my day and taught me a lesson or two about assumptions and cute names (symbols) etc.....
So another time this fellow wanted to borrow a couple c-notes.
I asked him "Leo, do you have a gambling problem?" He responded with Dostoevskian profundity "I don't have a problem with gambling, I have a  problem with losing".
Here's a couple that seem to agree with the sentiment, from the Boston Globe via Fox:
Sometimes you have to make your own luck.

An elderly couple stands to make millions of dollars after purchasing more than $600,000 worth of lottery tickets over a three-day period, according to a report by the Boston Globe.

Marjorie and Gerald Selbee, both in their 70s, each bought $307,000 worth of $2 tickets for a relatively obscure Massachusetts lottery called Cash WinFall. One location that sold them half the tickets, Billy’s Beer and Wine, had sold only $47 worth of lottery tickets the day before.

The Selbees are among a small group of gamblers -- including statisticians and engineers from MIT and Northwestern University -- who were able to exploit a lottery loophole providing them with risk-free winnings. The Selbees have already claimed nearly $1 million in prize money this year.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to Mohan Srivastava, an MIT-educated statistician who gained fame when he found a flaw in a Canadian scratch ticket game that allowed him to pick the winners more than 90 percent of the time

“Cash WinFall isn’t being played as a game of chance. Some smart people have figured out how to get rich while everyone else funds their winnings,” Srivastava told the Boston Globe.

According to Srivastava, because of the way Cash WinFall is setup, a gambler who bought 200,000 tickets during a special four-week period would not only cover his investment, but also make anywhere from $240,000 to $1.4 million in guaranteed profit. All in all, Srivastava calculates the top five groups and individuals playing Cash WinFall collectively win $1 million to $6 million in profits every year from less than two weeks of gambling, the Globe reported. 

How it Works
The secret is timing.

The game itself is simple: If the numbers on six randomly selected balls match the ones on your ticket, you win the jackpot -- which only one person has ever won since the game’s creation in 2004.

The jackpot grows slowly over time from a low of $500,000 to a limit of $2 million to $2.5 million. When the limit is reached and no one has won, the jackpot is redistributed across the smaller prizes for those who matched three, four or five numbers correctly.
When these "rolldowns" occur, the odds of a significant payout increase dramatically....MORE
Network World reported on the state's initial reaction: "State on rigged lottery: It's not a bug, it's a feature"
Although a this morning the Boston Herald said "Mass. puts limit on purchase of lottery tickets" and MassLive says "...Cash WinFall game investment strategy leads to suspension of 2 Franklin County lottery licenses"

We posted on Srivastava back in February:
"Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code"