Of course a properly randomized scratch-off or other instant win game should deliver the same odds on the first, last, and any other ticket in the roll, just like a spin of the roulette wheel or a tumble of the dice. But what if there is a way to trick the odds and position yourself, even ever so slightly, in a position better than the person in front of you or the person behind you in the lottery line? A Jacksonville, Florida news team may have uncovered just such an edge after investigating some of the state’s luckiest players.
According to a report on Action News Jax, Northeast Florida lottery players have won over a million dollars in the last two and a half years by playing scratch-off games. After analyzing a list of repeat NE Florida lottery winners, they found a pattern.
Some of the people on the list purchased tickets at the same location, moreover, some of them weren’t simply customers, they were members of the same family, and that family owns multiple lottery retail outlets in Jacksonville.
When reporters asked the chairman of the University of North Florida’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics what the odds are of people winning $22,000 – $36,000 – or even $66,000 on scratchers as one Columbia county convenience store owner did, Scott Hochwald replied, “Winning in scratch off, you can do that pretty effectively if you buy the whole roll of tickets,” said Hochwald. “Who buys the whole roll of tickets? Well, the people who own the stores.”
When one of the reporters asked the store owner who won $66,000 how many tickets he buys each week, on average, he reportedly replied, “It depends. A roll here or there. Something like that.”
According to the report, lottery officials told the team that it’s not illegal for ticket retailers to play the games, but “The Florida division of security examines winners, both retailers, and non-retailers, who have a significant number of claims on a routine basis.” The lottery also reportedly told the news outlet that it is perfectly legal to buy an entire roll of tickets.
It seems there may be trouble for some retailers if they are determined to have been “ticket brokering” with some 55 retailers terminated and 18 currently suspended for the integrity issue. Ticket brokering usually involves a retailer who buys winning tickets at a discount from players who don’t want to claim the prize themselves and then turns the tickets in for money, collecting their margin. Sources for the tickets could be drug dealers laundering money, deadbeat dads who don’t want to claim the money, those who don’t wish to pay taxes on their winnings – they could be immigrants who have overstayed their visas, people with criminal warrants out for their arrests, or those with any of a host of others perceived or real fears.
It would appear that your odds of getting a ticket worth at least $1,000 increase to 100% when you buy the whole roll, however, how much you pay for the roll, and the number and value of smaller prizes therein will determine whether it was a winning gamble when the chips fall, the dust settles, and the dice lie still.
So if your pockets are deep enough to take the risk – buy the whole roll, you just might do better than the person in front of you and the person behind.
If your pockets are so deep that the risk of someone else picking a winning Powerball jackpot for the same draw, resulting in a shared prize, doesn’t bother you – you could always buy all 292,201,338 possible number combinations for match 5 + Powerball whenever the announced jackpot (lump sum, after taxes) is higher than your investment. Of course, there would be plenty of smaller prizes including those worth $1 million each and seven other possible combinations worth anywhere between $4 to $50,000 each that are sure to come up.
The most glaring problem with that approach, of course, is the logistics of getting all of those tickets purchased. Buying 300 million quick picks is not going to do it because that’s a random draw. And of course, any half measure, buying far less than all 292,201,338 possible number combinations, is just a fools bet. With Powerball, you can expect to lose 95 cents on every $2 purchased. Of course, if you buy 200 million tickets there might be some daylight because you have just raised the jackpot prize with your purchase.
Also, “wise” Powerball players in search of the jackpot choose their own numbers. Most people who choose their own numbers will select numbers that are meaningful to them, often representing dates like anniversaries or birthdays. With months only having 31 days at most, choosing a larger number will reduce your chance of having to share the big prize.
So yes, there is a proven, legal way for you to increase your odds of winning the lottery – buy whole rolls of tickets. And, depending on your appetite for risk, as well as your bankroll, there may be a way to increase your odds of winning a Powerball or similar draw, however impractical.