Re: How to win the lottery

From: James Wetterau (
Date: Tue May 09 2000 - 08:48:20 MDT

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" says:
> Brian Atkins wrote:
> >
> > What I want to know is: if there are only 76 million combinations of
> > numbers, and tickets cost only $1 each, and the jackpot is over $200
> > million, why hasn't some group of people gotten together to buy all
> > the possible combinations? Even if someone else wins too you are still
> > gonna profit. Too much paperwork I guess?
> My guess is that more than one person can win; ergo, everyone on the
> planet buys tickets, 10 people win, and the payoff is only $20M per.

More than one person can win. There was an Australian consortium a
few years ago that used to keep an eye out for positive expectation
lotteries where, at the last minute, ticket sales were slow-paced
enough to justify belief that even with the expected number of winners
to share of the profit with, the consortium had a positive EV for
their ticket purchases. Once they determined that, they'd send
operatives to swoop down and cover every possible combination.
Apparently it was something of a white-knuckle business in the places
that were good for them because those were usually states where the
ticket stores were harder to get to than desirable for them, and
sometimes they only managed to cover all the numbers at the last
minute. The U.S. was particularly prime pickings for them since there
are 50 states, so at any given time there's often one state lottery
that's a good bet, and you can just drive your busload of operatives
to the relevant spot fairly easily.

The really big thing was that the winnings were untaxed in any way.
Apparently gambling winnings in the U.S. by a foreigner do not (or at
the time did not) subject you to U.S. taxes, and Australia (like many
former British Commonwealth countries) has no tax on gambling. So the
consortium would just pocket the profits. After they walked away with
many millions from (I think) Tennessee there were rumors that either
the U.S. or Tennessee might start imposing a special tax on winnings
for people who cover more than some large fraction of the lottery

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