The bank always wins. Do not forget this maxim of gambling where you bet money. Despite this, in this sector with a certain role in the economy of many countries have been used endless tricks, pure ingenuity or the most surprising mathematical analysis to take advantage of the chance.
And it is that leaving behind the most vulgar manipulations and traps, we must recognize that human ingenuity has no limits. The issue resurfaced last year as a result of a story in which it was explained that Eddie Tipton, one of the security officers of the US Multi-State Lottery Association (which groups the major lotteries of many US states) had been arrested by modifying the software with which the draws were made, allowing you to predict the numbers.
One of the security officers of the US Multi-State Lottery Association was arrested for modifying the software with which the draws were made, allowing him to predict the numbers
The computer in question was isolated from the outside world and guarded by cameras, after being meticulously audited. But the cracker took advantage of the change to the winter schedule of that PC to physically enter the room and – even being recorded – connect a pen drive with malicious software that modified the original. (The fact that some acts of such relevance are carried out “by computer” instead of drums and balls gives an idea of how badly the subject of computer security and audits are sometimes understood – but that is another story).
The subject in question acted calmly: between 2005 and 2011 he was associated with at least six different prizes from those that ended up being a beneficiary. As he did? He chose a couple of key days in which he could safely bet “his” numbers. The rigged raffles took place either on November 23 or December 29, although it is not clear how this was not detected in the software audits. Then he sold the tickets, which others charged “legally.”
The fact that one day he was surprised with $ 500,000 in cash and claimed to have won them in a lottery in another state with the help of a friend did not help him much. I was under the spotlights. Over time, and after bizarre stories with large unclaimed prizes, companies in tax havens (such as Belize), and the attempt to collect $ 14 million from a superb one, in October 2015 he was arrested and charged with a formal accusation. After the trial, he found his bones in jail, where he is currently 10 years old.
In other cases, some people use their knowledge but not necessarily to do evil. Wired magazine long ago told the story of Mohan Srivastava, a mathematician expert in statistics who discovered a design flaw in the coupons. After observing many of them, he came to a conclusion: the numbers could not be printed purely at random since they had to be distributed a certain amount of small, intermediate and large prizes.
If the algorithm with which these combinations were chosen was not perfect, the numbers that are visible in the coupons might allow us to guess something about those that were covered. In fact, you would not need to “scratch” anything: you could anticipate which coupons were winners and which were not. His formula was not perfect, but he found that it worked 90% of the time. Having calculated that it would not be very practical to go from store to store “looking” for coupons to buy only the winners, he went to the lottery agency to demonstrate his method.
Another notable case of human ingenuity applied to the draws was that of the Australians who bought all the lotus combinations to win a pot of 27 million dollars. It happened a couple of decades ago when these games and prizes were a little different than they are now: easier, probabilistically speaking, and still with good prizes (nowadays it would not be possible to carry this strategy out).
The basic idea was simple: in the lottery of Virginia (United States) a gigantic jackpot had accumulated with a probability of 1 between 7 million to hit with the winning combination. They made their calculations and saw that if they collected those 7 million dollars they could buy all the possible combinations and guarantee the prize, even though they might not be the only ones to guess and have to share it.
Everything looked good, but the story got complicated when the time came to make bets: the logistics needed to fill millions of tickets correctly and validate them in stores, especially in a limited time, was not trivial. In fact, they could not fill in anything more than about 5 of the 7 million tickets needed before the deadline; even so the bets were in his favor, although not by much.
In this case the goddess Fortuna and, as mathematicians would add, “the statistical laws” were her allies winning combination was not only among those who had played but also was unique. Although the lottery body examined everything that happened with a magnifying glass, few things were more legal, clear and transparent. The prize was charged in full 2. 500 members of the self-styled “Australian union” that had collected the money. And doing a double pirouette took advantage of the tax laws in force between Australia and the US to take them free of taxes.