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Massachusetts Lottery closes loophole after big wins

Massachusetts LotteryMassachusetts Lottery: Massachusetts Lottery closes loophole after big wins
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It was great while it lasted, for the few who knew the trick and had the money to take advantage of it.

A lottery game in Massachusetts, known as Cash WinFall, had a quirk in it. Every three months or so, if the WinFall jackpot exceeded $2 million but nobody picked all six of the randomly-chosen winning numbers, the money in the jackpot pool would go to people who picked only four or five correct numbers.

The Massachusetts Lottery said the odds of picking all six numbers were 1 in 9,366,819. But during so-called "rolldown weeks," someone who picked five numbers could win as much as $135,000 — and the odds of success were 1 in 39,000.

If you bought enough tickets, said a state official who asked not to be quoted by name, the odds of making a profit could be very high.

The Lottery Commission said a Michigan couple, Gerald and Marjorie Selbee, both 73, periodically came to western Massachusetts to buy tickets in bulk, often by the hundreds of thousands. They even got themselves temporary jobs at local stores — he in the town of South Deerfield, she in nearby Sunderland — so that they could systematically sell themselves tickets without troubling store clerks.

It would be in a store's interest to have them, said officials; a store gets a 5 percent commission on every ticket sold, and a 1 percent bonus if it sells a winning ticket.

Messages left for the Selbees in Michigan and Massachusetts were not immediately returned. Apparently they ran a profit. Since July 1, the Lottery Commission said, the company they set up for tax purposes "made 187 prize claims totaling $206,649." That did not include lottery tickets that won them amounts of $600 or less.

"They did nothing nefarious or illegal, and it's unfortunate that they've been portrayed otherwise," said Beth Bresneham, the marketing director for the Massachusetts Lottery. But she added, "There's a perception that people with more money do better."

And as word spread, the lottery faced an image crisis. In May, during a rolldown week, there were 1,605 prizes awarded — and 1,105 of them went to just three companies, like the one set up by the Selbees, that bought lottery tickets in volume.

"The integrity of the lottery is our priority," Bresnehan said. "It's critical to our success. We want people to know that when they play, they have the same chance of winning."

State Treasurer Steven Grossman has now announced that stores will be limited to selling $5,000 worth of WinFall tickets per day, so that big-volume buyers would have to go from store to store for lottery tickets.

And the two stores the Selbees used have been suspended from selling lottery tickets for now.

"I'm hoping that, yes, my license will be restored because I've got people that want to buy their tickets here," Paul Mardas, owner of the liquor store in Sunderland, said in an interview with ABC affiliate WGGB-TV.

The WinFall game has already been fading in popularity, said the Lottery Commission, and will be ended next year.

"I want to assure the public that the Cash WinFall game is not in any way compromised and is providing an urgently needed $11 million in annual profit to the Commonwealth," Grossman said in a statement. "There is nothing wrong with the game itself."

ABC News

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75 comments. Last comment 5 years ago by RJOh.
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jarasan's avatar - new patrick.gif
Harbinger
D.C./MD.
United States
Member #44103
July 30, 2006
5583 Posts
Offline
Posted: August 3, 2011, 7:35 am - IP Logged
    RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
    mid-Ohio
    United States
    Member #9
    March 24, 2001
    19826 Posts
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    Posted: August 3, 2011, 8:21 am - IP Logged

    They really didn't eliminate the opportunities for big spenders to buy thousands of lottery tickets, they just made it harder.   If any of them do buy that amount of tickets for a future drawing, you can be sure they will be more discrete and avoid reporters like the plaque.

     * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
       
                 Evil Looking       

      jarasan's avatar - new patrick.gif
      Harbinger
      D.C./MD.
      United States
      Member #44103
      July 30, 2006
      5583 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: August 3, 2011, 8:26 am - IP Logged

      Eventually they will change the rules.  This is just the first bureaucratic move to appease the "little guy". P.S. it is the "plague".  The federal govt. is like the the bubonic plague.

        sully16's avatar - sharan
        Ringleader
        Michigan
        United States
        Member #81740
        October 28, 2009
        40468 Posts
        Online
        Posted: August 3, 2011, 8:40 am - IP Logged

        Are you kidding me ? They put a spending cap on the amount you can play at each store, when they themselves can't control spending. Sounds like big government screwing over small business. They need to let people spend their money the way they see fit.

        Did you exchange a walk on part in the war ?

        For a lead role in a cage?

         

                                                    From Pink Floyd's " Wish you were here"

          dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
          Oklahoma
          United States
          Member #82391
          November 12, 2009
          6290 Posts
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          Posted: August 3, 2011, 8:46 am - IP Logged

          What I don't get is why did they suspended the license of the store where they worked part-time if they did nothing wrong/illegal why punish the other merchants???????

            dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
            Oklahoma
            United States
            Member #82391
            November 12, 2009
            6290 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: August 3, 2011, 8:47 am - IP Logged

            Are you kidding me ? They put a spending cap on the amount you can play at each store, when they themselves can't control spending. Sounds like big government screwing over small business. They need to let people spend their money the way they see fit.

            I Agree!

              dpoly1's avatar - driver
              PA
              United States
              Member #66141
              October 16, 2008
              1672 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: August 3, 2011, 8:51 am - IP Logged

              I can't be a part of Government, I am not goofy enough!

              Government can't control it's own spending so they make rules for individuals ............. Crazy

              On a positive note .................... I will stop by the Bentley store in Pittsburgh to look today ..............

              ........................... just in case ..................... Cool $55 million or so after taxes!!!!

                maringoman's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcTbRxpKQmOfcCoUqF2FyqIOAwDo7rg9G-lfJLAALPGWJWwiz19eRw
                Massachusetts
                United States
                Member #37433
                April 14, 2006
                2747 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: August 3, 2011, 9:05 am - IP Logged

                They really didn't eliminate the opportunities for big spenders to buy thousands of lottery tickets, they just made it harder.   If any of them do buy that amount of tickets for a future drawing, you can be sure they will be more discrete and avoid reporters like the plaque.

                I agree but still cant believe this is happening. Is it even legal? punishing all the stores in the commonwealth because of a few rotten tomatoes that allowed the high roller customers to print their tickets is not right. I suspect this game will be discontinued when they realize that their new rule cannot stand after a lawsuit.

                I am no lawyer but I feel this new rule interferes with interstate commerce which is contrary to the Constitution and therefore it is null and void.

                That money's gone fo ever

                  Avatar

                  United States
                  Member #72894
                  March 30, 2009
                  27 Posts
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                  Posted: August 3, 2011, 9:22 am - IP Logged

                  Leave it to the state to legally steal from the players, and yet when players, LEGALLY, learn how to take advantage of a state given advantage, the state shuts it down.

                    RL-RANDOMLOGIC's avatar - usafce

                    United States
                    Member #59354
                    March 13, 2008
                    3971 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: August 3, 2011, 9:45 am - IP Logged

                    I don't see anything worng that needs to be fixed or discontinued.  These people sock a lot of money

                    into the game and are still taking risk.  When the article says they cashed in 187 winning tickets and

                    won a little over 200K then it works out to about 1100 dollars per ticket cashed in.   Once you consider

                    how many tickets they probably purchased to do this I doubt they came out rich.  The person who buys a

                    single ticket and wins $10.00 I would say got a bigger ROI per ticket then they did.  If you purchased 100,000

                    tickets and averaged 10 bucks per ticket then a single play could net you a million bucks.   It might be worth

                    the risk but it is still a risk and having a game of chance closed because some have more to invest then others

                    is the big scam here.  I would love to see all the big games do something like this because my few lines I play

                    have the same chance as the same number of tickets they play.  I would rather win 10 bucks when I play then

                    to hope for a billion and win nothing.   If powerball paid $45 for a 3 of 5 then I would play that game anytime

                    the roll down was expected.   If I did happen to hit a 4 of 5 then it would still pay more then I could normally

                    expect when I play.  The only downside would be if people stoped playing waiting on a roll down.

                     

                    RL

                    Working on my Ph.D.  "University of hard Knocks"

                    I will consider the opinion that my winnings are a product of chance if you are willing to consider

                    they are not.  Many great discoveries come while searching for something else

                    USAF https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_Base_Engineer_Emergency_Force

                      US Flag Trump / 2016 & 2020  

                      surimaribo24's avatar - photo11 zpsfffd70be.jpg
                      NEW YORK. RIVERHEAD
                      United States
                      Member #106371
                      February 17, 2011
                      9702 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: August 3, 2011, 10:13 am - IP Logged

                      Are you kidding me ? They put a spending cap on the amount you can play at each store, when they themselves can't control spending. Sounds like big government screwing over small business. They need to let people spend their money the way they see fit.

                      verry well said.

                      I Agree!

                        Raven62's avatar - binary
                        New Jersey
                        United States
                        Member #17843
                        June 28, 2005
                        49725 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: August 3, 2011, 10:46 am - IP Logged

                        Are you kidding me ? They put a spending cap on the amount you can play at each store, when they themselves can't control spending. Sounds like big government screwing over small business. They need to let people spend their money the way they see fit.

                        They want people to Play the Games, but they don't want Anyone to Win! LOL

                        A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

                          Raven62's avatar - binary
                          New Jersey
                          United States
                          Member #17843
                          June 28, 2005
                          49725 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: August 3, 2011, 10:48 am - IP Logged

                          What I don't get is why did they suspended the license of the store where they worked part-time if they did nothing wrong/illegal why punish the other merchants???????

                          Because the Government is Punitive!

                          A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

                            Raven62's avatar - binary
                            New Jersey
                            United States
                            Member #17843
                            June 28, 2005
                            49725 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: August 3, 2011, 10:52 am - IP Logged

                            Eventually they will change the rules.  This is just the first bureaucratic move to appease the "little guy". P.S. it is the "plague".  The federal govt. is like the the bubonic plague.

                            Massachusetts Lottery Players Unite: Boycott the Massachusetts Lottery Games! LOL

                            A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!