From Maryland: State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency finds that the same 8 people have won high-dollar prizes more than 200 times

Jaybird

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17 Responses

  1. Greg In Ak
    Ignored
    says:

    As ( alleged) scams go this one sounds pretty good. Not violent and who would think they would get caught. But they couldn’t out with The Statistician.Report

  2. fillyjonk
    Ignored
    says:

    hmmmm wonder if any of them are related to Lottery Commission employees or are friends. (I know, supposedly there are laws against that, but)

    also my dumb stats-teaching-addled brain thought about “how would one go about calculating the probability of that frequent of a win?” because that’s how you’d get ’em, prove that it’s unlikely below a certain threshold, and then dig deeper to see what the scam is. (I am less good at designing probability tests than I am applying “straight” statistical tests)Report

    • Jaybird in reply to fillyjonk
      Ignored
      says:

      It reminded me of the McDonald’s Monopoly scandal.

      Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to fillyjonk
      Ignored
      says:

      The other scam I’ve heard is that some of the people who buy tickets at convenience stores are too twisted by drugs and drink to actually read the numbers, so they had their ticket to the clerk and say “did I win?” He says “no”, pockets the ticket, then later on calls a friend and says “got a winner, if you split it with me I’ll say that you bought it”…Report

  3. Michael Cain
    Ignored
    says:

    I seem to recall that someone in Canada won their national lottery twice, long ago when the big prize was like a million Canadian dollars. At the time people had to go to Ottawa to collect their winnings, where someone guided them through the building and the paperwork, kept the reporters at bay, etc. He was notorious for telling the pretty female guide who met him, within earshot of the press, “You don’t need to help me, I’ve done this before.”Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain
      Ignored
      says:

      Maryland has this rule that you don’t have to give your name and you don’t have to show up in the picture where you’re holding up your check (you can hide your face behind it).

      But one guy KEPT WEARING THE SAME BALLCAP IN MULTIPLE PICTURES JEEZ LOUISE

      You might know enough to speculate on this:

      Would it be easier to give someone a “winning” ticket after the ping-pong balls were picked or would it be easier to force the ping-pong balls to come out a certain way?Report

  4. Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    Note: “In total, these individuals won 2,305 times with related winnings totaling $4.5 million.” So the high-dollar winnings averaged just under $2,000. They weren’t winning hundreds of thousands or millions each time.Report

  5. fillyjonk
    Ignored
    says:

    I guess these guys skewed the odds for everyone else, then?

    (Insert Lottery Winner Georg joke here)Report

    • Jaybird in reply to fillyjonk
      Ignored
      says:

      I don’t know.

      It strikes me that there are two ways to cheat the system (and please let me know if you have come up with a third).

      The first is to pick which balls get picked by the popcorn machine.

      I think that, yeah, that would skew the odds for everyone else. Even if, yeah, Pick-4 just picks 4 numbers.

      The other way to do it is to let the ball machine pick its numbers like normal but somehow update the database to say that this ticket that was printed 10 minutes after the balls were picked was really printed two hours before.

      That strikes me as not skewing the odds for everyone else.

      We may need a math person.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        PAGING MATH PEOPLE!

        WE HAVE A PROBABILITY QUESTION!Report

        • Pinky in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          The second way wouldn’t affect other people’s probability. It could impact the payout if this is one of those “each person gets a percentage” lotteries, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Pinky
            Ignored
            says:

            It kind of depends on how you’re defining “probability.”

            If you print a ticket after the fact, everyone’s odds of having their ticket be a “winner” is unchanged. But their payout would be less. As such, their EV (expected value) would be lower. And you could reasonably argue that means their odds were lowered. It is less about math and more about how gamblers tend to evaluate things (though lottery players tend not to do this because they’d quickly realize lotteries have pretty much the worst EV).

            If you manipulated the ball machine itself, then you dramatically change odds, giving most people a 0% chance of winning and whoever happened to also pick the same numbers a 100% chance of winning.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
              Ignored
              says:

              If tickets cost $1 and you have a 1 in 10 chance of winning $5, you’d expect to lose 50-cents per ticket purchased.

              Now, if someone gamed the process such that they would guarantee to split the $5 winnings with you, you’d have a 1 in 10 chance of winning $2.50. As such, you’d expect to lose 75-cents per ticket purchased.

              Your odds of having your winning numbers chosen isn’t any different but your payout is so the overall calculus on the value of the bet is changed.Report

  6. Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    This sounds a lot like the syndicate Voltaire famously used to win a French lottery which made him rich: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/voltaire-enlightenment-philosopher-and-lottery-scammer-180967265/Report

  7. DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    Wasn’t this also Jerry And Marge Go Large?
    https://www.pastemagazine.com/movies/jerry-and-marge-go-large-review/Report

  8. Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    The most favorable odds for the pick 4 game (which happens twice a day) is a little over 400 to 1 on a $24 dollar bet, so the rough expectation for winning the top prize with a max bet at each and ever opportunity is twice a year.

    Doing the minimum bet eligible for the top prize has 10 thousand to 1 odds, which is winning once every 18 or so months, but again, betting a buck twice a day, every day.

    https://www.mdlottery.com/games/pick-3-pick-4-pick-5/prize-structure/Report

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