A group of science and math experts won almost $8 million on a state lottery after discovering a fool-proof way of winning.
The group was similar to the MIT blackjack team shown in the movie 21.
The lottery crew included a biomedical researcher and MIT undergraduates who were ‘looking for an interesting school project’, bought more than $40million of tickets over seven years but won approximately $48 million – an $8 million profit.
Statisticians calculated that, during brief periods when the unclaimed jackpot of the Massachusetts Cash WinFall game total reached $2million, players buying $100,000 worth of tickets would almost certainly win.
And their gamble paid off. Using these small windows of opportunity, the group bought as many tickets as they could, using a loophole in which lottery officials failed to limit the amount that could be sold in one day.
During these high payout intervals, the gambling syndicates won most of the lottery’s prizes.
Officials at the Massachusetts state lottery knew one of their games had essentially been taken over by the group of highly-intelligent gamblers but did nothing because their syndicate generated $16million.
Their system became an almost full-time business as the sophisticated gamblers snapped up hundreds of thousands of lottery tickets at $2 each.
By 2005 they had essentially monopolized the game.
The group’s scheme came to light in a recently-published report by the state’s inspector general, the Boston Globe reports.
It is thought lottery officials found out about the loophole in 2010 – or maybe earlier – but did not act because it was bringing in so much money, the report added.
However, when journalists began looking into the loophole last summer, lottery chiefs introduced a $5,000 limit on the number of tickets retailers were allowed to sell every day.
The Cash WinFall game was finally halted by Massachusetts state treasurer Steven Grossman earlier this year.
Grossman told the Boston Globe: ‘I feel it is important to essentially apologise to the public because a game was created that allowed syndicates to gain special opportunities that others did not have – using machines themselves, partnership with lottery agents, using them after hours. We’re sorry some gained unfair advantage.
‘Revenues were tremendous and the lottery benefited, but there were practices that were not appropriate and things done that were not right.’
The report into the Massachusetts syndicate concluded that, while it had been a financial success for the lottery, no officials personally benefited financially from it.
Officials were simply guilty of failing to manage the game and enforcing the rules.
Massachusetts is not the only state to be targeted by gambling networks. The same loophole was used and exploited in a similar lottery in Michigan.
One group was said to have netted $8million profit before the game was shut down in 2005.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was the former governor of MA.
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