|Posted: April 20, 2016, 10:02 pm - IP Logged|
How are winners distributed in instant ticket packs?
Some lotteries guarantee a minimum dollar amount of winners in an instant pack. In those instances, obviously, the distribution isn't fully random. However, I suspect most, if not all, instant ticket packs aren't random; deterministic with the winners seeded using some method...
That's what I'm seeking some details about - how do instant ticket vendors seed winners?
While I doubt any lottery vendor insiders will reply (be great if any do!), surely, many here, who regularly play instants, have some worthwhile details to shed some light on this topic.
I ask out of curiosity, and to play smarter. But also because I'd like to see more discussion of this issue, because I strongly suspect some lotteries are deceiving, if not outright cheating, instant ticket players by how they seed winners. Lottery vendors will presumably know the pack in which every winner is located, plus the vendor and/or lottery will know the physical location of each pack.
A related topic is the process lotteries use to determine when to pull instant tickets. I'd suspect some lotteries will abruptly pull games when the odds of a player finding top prize winner becomes too favorable for players. In some instances, it's possible a lottery won't pull the entire game, but rather specific pack(s) to avoid paying out some top prizes...
Digressing somewhat, but adds some credibility to the strategy many players use - focusing on playing newer games, and avoid older ones with few top prizes remaining. However, some players have success doing the opposite, but assumes the lottery is being honest and not pulling packs early.
With all that said, my guess of one, of various, possible methods is:
1. The prizes are categorized into tiers (ie. for a $1 ticket with $5000 top prize ... low-tier: $100 and under; mid-tier: $101-$500; top: $5000).
2. Then the lower prize tiers are seeded semi-random with limit on total number of winning tickets permitted in a pack (ie. for pack of 300 with average of 1 in 5 being a winner, 60 tickets with bounds of 50 to 70).
3. After seeding of lower prizes, at random, some packs are seeded with mid tier prizes with bounds on number in any given pack (more than one may be allowed).
4. Top prizes / highest tiers are seeded very selectively ensuring they're distributed widely across the entire batch of all packs (no more than one per pack, let alone a group of packs).
This is a layman's guess of one possible method of how lottery vendors do it.
In Pennsylvania, I've noticed full packs tend to pay out about half minimum, which is in line with that of many other lotteries, including foreign ones, in particular, UK. However, like most, PA doesn't guarantee minimum payout.
Furthermore, many who do packs have observed the total number of winners tend to be balanced out. For example, if a pack has a lot of winners in the beginning, expect a long drought at the end. Just did a 100 pack of $3 PA Crosswords ($300), and here's the distribution:
$3: 9 ... $27
$5: 1 ... $5
$10: 3 ... $30
$20: 1 ... $20
$30: 1 ... $30
$100: 1 ... $100
Total: (16 winners) $212
$3: 6 ... $18
$5: 2 ... $10
$10: 2 ... $20
Total: (10 winners) $48
Grand total: $260 with 26 winning tickets. I suspect the $100 prize is considered a mid tier and added in after lower prizes; subtract the $100 and the total would be $160, which would be around a typical payout for a $300 full pack.
To reiterate, my question is what possible methods do lottery vendors use to seed instant lottery packs?