Type WebPage
Date 2018-03-01
Tags lottery, gambling

The Lottery Hackers

The lengths the article goes to in order to paint its subjects as underdog heroes is impressive. Even so, Jerry is described as, more or less, a long-time scammer, or at least perfectly willing to get one over on people in the name of profit:

Jerry figured out that if he put his beer cooler on defrost late in the evening, the bottles would develop a layer of frost by morning that made them irresistible to factory workers coming off the night shift. “Oh God, did they love that. A lot of 40-ouncers went out of that store. And they said, ‘Oh my God, coldest beer in town,’” Jerry recalled, laughing. “Never told ’em.”

He knew, for instance, that cigarette companies paid store owners for shelf space by discounting the price of cigarettes to the tune of $2 a carton. Jerry figured out that if he bought cigarettes wholesale at this discounted rate, then marked them up by $1 and sold them to smaller retailers who didn’t get the discount, he could undercut cigarette wholesalers. It wasn’t exactly fair to the cigarette companies, but it wasn’t exactly illegal, either.

And it's hard to sound more guilty than by saying "maybe they wanted the game to be unfair":

It never occurred to Jerry to alert the Michigan Lottery that Winfall was vulnerable to exploitation. For all he knew, the state was perfectly aware of the flaw already. Maybe the flaw was intentional, to encourage players to spend lots of money on lottery tickets, since the state took a cut of each ticket sold, about 35 cents on the dollar.

Jerry later complains that the real thief is the government, for taking forty cents out of his gambling dollars.

And it's not like the only shady thing they did is buying lots of tickets to exploit a flaw in the game:

Jerry got around the first rule by having the corporation, of which the store owners were members, “hire” the Selbees to print the tickets. As for printing tickets within posted store hours—well, yes, that was a violation. But Jerry saw it as a minor sin, no different than what millions of American businesses do every day to get by.

Name Role
Jason Fagone Author
The Huffington Post Publisher