Playing the lottery is a sure thing for some number crunchers who are exploiting a loophole in the rules of a Massachusetts game.
Every few months, an obscure lottery game called Cash WinFall becomes the hottest ticket in the state for gamblers in the know, because the odds tilt overwhelmingly in favor of players spending big bucks, according to a Boston Globe expose.
Marjorie and Gerald Selbee, a couple in their 70s, have won over $1 million in prize money this year, the Globe reports, because they know just the time to start buying up huge quantities of Cash WinFall tickets. During their last run in July, they each spent $307,000 on the game -- which is won by matching six numbers on the ticket with six randomly drawn balls.
What the Selbees and a small group of statisticians knew was that they had a near lock on winning big bucks during the times when no one won the maximum jackpot of roughly $2 million.
If there was no winner for the prize money, it was redistributed among players who had three, four or five matching numbers on their tickets. It practically stops being a game of chance for deep-pocketed players as anyone buying at least $100,000 of tickets has a 74 percent chance of turning a profit, the Globe reported. It becomes a guaranteed moneymaker for people like the Selbees who spend much more than that.
Despite the dominance of the Cash WinFall by the Selbees and a handful of other clued-in players, state lottery officials showed no indication that they'd close the loophole, because the game remains profitable.
"It’s a niche game for a different audience," Paul Sternburg, the lottery’s executive director told the Globe. "You want to bring in as many players as possible. Some people chase a huge jackpot. Others are looking at odds."