State Investigates Controversial Lottery Game

By Sarah Birnbaum

Oct. 20, 2011
BOSTON — State Treasurer Steve Grossman has called for an investigation into a state lottery game called Cash WinFall after a handful of gamblers exploited a flaw and raked in millions.
Grossman, who oversees the state lottery, has asked the state Inspector General to launch a review into Cash WinFall.
“There’s no presumption of wrongdoing, but there have been enough questions and stories” to merit an investigation, Grossman said, adding that “the integrity of the lottery is my most important concern.”
The Boston Globe reported this past summer that a group of tech-savvy gamblers found a loophole in the Cash WinFall game: If they bought more than $100,000 in tickets at times when the jackpot went over $2 million, they were almost assured of making a hefty profit.
One gambler, an MIT graduate with a degree in computer science, bought $1.4 million in tickets over four days and won $2.5 million. The Globe reported that allegedly state authorities knew about the loophole for years but did nothing about it — and might even have encouraged the behavior because it was good for lottery sales.
Grossman said he has changed the rules of the game so the scheme won’t work anymore. Going forward, no lottery agent will be allowed to sell more than $5,000 worth of tickets in a single day, and “we’ve reduced the amount of cash windfall tickets they can sell to $25,000,” he said.
The Inspector General’s report is expected within the next couple of months.

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