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"Lotologist" has amassed 250,000 used lotto tickets

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: "Lotologist" has amassed 250,000 used lotto tickets

You know the saying, "one man's junk is another man's treasure." It's an axiom that Dennis Morse and nearly 900 other people around the U.S. apparently take to heart.

Morse is a collector. He collects a lot of things but is most passionate about one thing in particular: used scratch-off lottery tickets.

Like his fellow collectors, the 67-year-old retired U.S. Navy diver from South Mills calls himself a "lotologist." It's a handle adopted by the many ticket collectors who might be considered the world's experts on scratch-off lottery tickets.

So what's the attraction? For Morse, it's the thrill of collecting and the aesthetic value of each ticket — some, like the Alaskan tickets, depict beautiful landscapes and wildlife. But, he adds, there's no real rhyme or reason for why anyone collects anything.

Morse lives with his wife Corky — she lovingly refers to the lottery ticket collectors as "800 or so weirdoes" — in a house he constructed. Inside the house, room after room is filled with Morse's collections.

He has videotape collections, thousands of books all stacked and piled in his living room and a Pokemon-toy collection from Burger King.

"You had to go eat a kid's meal," Morse said. "At first we lied and said they were for a grandchild but after a while they would catch on."

The living room is filled with his various collections, but only one room, in the back of the house, is dedicated to lottery tickets.

In that room Morse has more than 250,000 lottery tickets, none of which is worth the paper it was printed on. Although he has amassed so many tickets, his actual collection consists of about 30,000 unique tickets. The remainder of the tickets are duplicates he keeps for trading with other members of the Global Lottery Collector's Society.

Morse started collecting things when he was a boy, growing up in Chicago. He said on his one-plus-mile walk home from school each day, he would pass through alleyways and find things. If Morse couldn't haul his find in his arms, he would return later with his wagon.

Morse said those things he collected as a child were typically mechanical in nature. He enjoyed tinkering with them and trying to breathe new life into objects such as an old 1940s radio or bicycle brakes.

Morse still has a few things around the house that he seems to tinker with, like 50 different, outdated computers. But the bulk of his time as a collector — an estimated 15 hours a week — is spent with his lottery tickets.

In April, 1992 Morse said he read about lottery ticket collectors in a book. He contacted the people involved and became number 317 on a list of national collectors.

Morse said other than postage there's no money involved. He said the way you get started is contact the other collectors, they send you used lottery tickets and you go from there.

"These are all discarded (tickets)," he said. "There are no winning scratch tickets."

Some collectors do collect and trade unused tickets. According to one lotologist Web site, many collectors view unscratched tickets as more desirable because no one knows whether or not they have a $10,000 instant winner.

Morse, on the other hand, said he, along with many other collectors, don't bother with unscratched tickets. They view those other collectors as a bit foolish since they are potentially spending money — depending the state, tickets can cost as little as $1 to as much as $30 — they will never recoup. So discarded tickets are the way to go, he said.

"We collect them out of garbage cans, essentially," Morse said.

Well, not exactly. Although there may be the odd occasion to burrow through a garbage can, Morse has a network of stores set up where he can collect the discarded tickets once a week or so. Merchants, he said, will collect used tickets left behind by the unlucky purchaser and stash them in a box, awaiting Morse's arrival.

"I have wonderful people at the nicest gas station in Elizabeth City. The Southgate Shell takes the tickets left over and they put them in a box for me," Morse said.

Morse takes those tickets home and sorts them. As far as regional tickets are concerned, he has traditionally been the keeper of Virginia and Maryland lottery tickets, and now North Carolina. And that's important to the network of collectors.

Nationally there are 42 states plus Washington, D.C., with lotteries. Morse said there are collectors in all but seven of those states. So collectors in those states, or who live near unpopulated ones, are responsible for keeping up with new tickets. And that can be a chore with as many as 300 new tickets being introduced every month.

The collectors keep a copy of a new ticket for themselves then catalogue duplicates for trading later. They also send one ticket to a man they all call the "compiler."

The compiler is an Indiana man who has amassed the largest ticket collection in the country. Out of 40,000 possible lottery tickets to date, the compiler has all but seven, according to Morse. When collectors in various states pull in the newest tickets and send them to the compiler, he's able to catalogue them and include them in the group's newsletter, which he produces.

Because there is no monetary value attached to the used tickets and the collections, collectors freely trade. They publish their want list in a monthly newsletter, or contact specific members. The members who have the desired ticket pass them forward.

If fellow lotologists want a specific ticket, they typically know which collector has the tickets and make contact.

"I'm the go-to guy in Virginia, Maryland and now North Carolina," Morse said.

When the North Carolina lottery went live last month, Morse was standing by. He knew that he had a new collector's book to fill and fellow collectors would be clamoring for copies of the first tickets in the state's history.

While Morse typically won't spend a dollar for a ticket, he made an exception on that first day. In fact, he managed to purchase the first tickets off the rolls at two area stores.

Those tickets will go into his personal collection. They're not valuable by any stretch of the imagination — they weren't winning tickets either. But they are numbered 0-4. He purchased the first tickets sold at Jones Brothers Market and the South Mills Supermarket.

As the state's lottery matures, Morse hopes to see more appealing tickets, like the ones from Alaska, for instance. He'll also be keeping tabs on the new tickets, stockpiling for current and future collectors.

It is, after all, his hobby and while he repeated time and again that there's no monetary value to the collection, there's personal value and the time spent means something.

"People have wants and likes," Morse said. "Mine are lottery tickets. People like to collect things."

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12 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by CASH Only.
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Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
Chief Bottle Washer
New Jersey
United States
Member #1
May 31, 2000
21653 Posts
Offline
Posted: April 16, 2006, 8:48 pm - IP Logged

I didn't want to wait until tomorrow to post this interesting news story.  Enjoy a special Easter evening article!

 

Check the State Lottery Report Card
What grade did your lottery earn?

 

Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
Help eliminate computerized drawings!

    Clairvoyance's avatar - eye storm.jpg

    United States
    Member #26882
    November 23, 2005
    1404 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: April 16, 2006, 9:30 pm - IP Logged
     

    Intersting!

    Geee, He could have my Losers. I can't tell you how many I have thrown away over the last few years LOL!
      dvdiva's avatar - 8ball

      United States
      Member #2338
      September 17, 2003
      2063 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: April 17, 2006, 1:32 am - IP Logged

      Old online tickets would also be hard to find.


        United States
        Member #379
        June 5, 2002
        11296 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: April 17, 2006, 1:16 pm - IP Logged

        Alaska doesn't have a lottery. Why was it mentioned?

          csfb's avatar - Lottery-001.jpg

          United States
          Member #15309
          May 13, 2005
          307 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: April 17, 2006, 3:33 pm - IP Logged

          Alaska doesn't have a lottery. Why was it mentioned?

          Is that so?  If you are correct, that shows sloppy research on the part of the news reporter.  He didn't say he was quoting the lotto- ticket collector either. 

          I'm getting more and more leery about some news reporters.  Not particularly this one.  Sometimes, their news stories are so factually flawed, I wonder if they do reasonable research.  Or sometimes, they gild the lily so much or slant the facts for sensationalism, just to attract more readers.

            angelm's avatar - anne
            richmond ky.
            United States
            Member #15877
            May 22, 2005
            8470 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: April 17, 2006, 3:46 pm - IP Logged

            maybe he meant he is waiting for Alaska to have a lottery so that he can collect the ticketsWhat?

              dvdiva's avatar - 8ball

              United States
              Member #2338
              September 17, 2003
              2063 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: April 17, 2006, 4:08 pm - IP Logged

              That would be a long wait. Utah will get a lottery before Alaska will. It's just far too remote and too many places don't even have phone lines for the logistics to work.

                Timmer692002's avatar - Lottery-036.jpg
                Shelby Twp,MI
                United States
                Member #1883
                July 19, 2003
                290 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: April 17, 2006, 4:24 pm - IP Logged

                Heck, if there was an address, I'd send him mine! 

                Lottery Tickets 





                  Avatar
                  New Member

                  United States
                  Member #21849
                  September 15, 2005
                  8 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: April 17, 2006, 10:59 pm - IP Logged

                  Alaska doesn't have a lottery. Why was it mentioned?

                  I have a cousin that is stationed in Alaska (Fairbanks) and she said that Alaska do have a lottery called Pull Tabs. She explained it as if it is like a scratch off ticket.

                    Clairvoyance's avatar - eye storm.jpg

                    United States
                    Member #26882
                    November 23, 2005
                    1404 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: April 17, 2006, 11:24 pm - IP Logged
                     

                    I read somewhere a while back that Alaska had put out a series of scratch off tickets with birds on it then they stopped making them.

                     

                    I wonder if he has one of those Fake Instant scratch tickets in his collection! You would think every scratch ticket collector would have one of them!
                      Avatar
                      New Member

                      United States
                      Member #38884
                      May 6, 2006
                      1 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: May 6, 2006, 10:52 pm - IP Logged

                      Alaska doesn't have a lottery. Why was it mentioned?

                      Actually, Alaska HAD a lottery. They dont anymore. I have all the tickets from that state but one.

                      If you are interested, all sorts of "lotologist" collectiong information can be found at http://lotologist.com

                      Here is a picture of alaska ticket number 1.

                       

                      http://antique-shop.com/lotterydb/AK/pictures/1.html

                       

                      see the rest here 

                      http://antique-shop.com/lotterydb/AK/pictures 


                        United States
                        Member #379
                        June 5, 2002
                        11296 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: May 8, 2006, 12:18 pm - IP Logged

                        Alaska doesn't have a lottery. Why was it mentioned?

                        Actually, Alaska HAD a lottery. They dont anymore. I have all the tickets from that state but one.

                        If you are interested, all sorts of "lotologist" collectiong information can be found at http://lotologist.com

                        Here is a picture of alaska ticket number 1.

                         

                        http://antique-shop.com/lotterydb/AK/pictures/1.html

                         

                        see the rest here 

                        http://antique-shop.com/lotterydb/AK/pictures 

                        AFAIK Alaska has never had a state lottery. The closest thing to a lottery up there is a guessing game on when a certain river thaws. Another sign of global warming.