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You are taking money from the prize pool, i.e. payouts for future winners.

You, and everyone else. That is the rule of the game. You aren't doing anything wrong. By that logic, any money winner is taking payours from future winners.

> You aren't doing anything wrong.

That's debatable. Lotteries are supposed to be completely up to chance. If by your own ingenuity you exploit a weakness then you are tipping the scales in your favor, which is unfair to less clever players.

It's basically the tragedy of the commons; everyone has the same chance of winning, but only you know you can safely risk more and win more, lessening the winning of others.

He didn't have insider knowledge though. He used the games own rules to play an advantage. Those rules were available to everyone, everyone could have done the same.

The rules are available to everyone, but having enough cash to purchase that many lottery tickets certainly isn't. Unfortunately this is yet another system that enables the already rich to get richer on the backs of the poor.

Perhaps if the poor didn’t spend so much on lottery tickets their station might improve? If they know they are playing a losing bet, why keep doing it? And these folks that were winning were hardly hedge-fund managers. If the “poor” wanted to play to win, perhaps they could get everyone on their block to chip in to buy shares just like the old couple did? They could get all of their friends to save what they would have spent in the lottery over the course of the year, put that fund into the “pot” and then win, reinvesting it and repeating the process.

It’s hard to be sympathetic to people that make bad decisions as a habit. For example, if it’s a 1/5,000,000 chance of winning and they still keep playing, that’s on them. The have very little sympathy for losing lottery players. If people choose to spend their money like that, that’s their business, but that doesn’t invite sympathy when it doesn’t work out. It isn’t like they are being defrauded or even cheated. They have access to the same rules of the game and they have access to math just like everyone else.

> Perhaps if the poor didn’t spend so much on lottery tickets their station might improve?

I agree, and indeed this is a good argument for prohibiting lotteries. They're a form of predatory gambling that relies largely upon irrationality, addiction, and desperation.

Any of the millions of poor people that buy lottery tickets every week could have spent a much smaller initial sum and worked up to the millions. It just would have taken longer.

According to the couple quoted in the article, taking advantage of a 'Rolldown' draw required an initial investment of $1,100 (equivalent to around $1,500 now). That's not a sum easily available to those who are poor.

In this case, the Rolldown was specifically designed to increase the payouts in order to encourage more people to buy tickets.

This is a feature, not a bug.

The bug was the fact that it was only two groups of people figured this out.

Nobody improperly took anything from anyone.

This really only shows how much the lottery is an innumeracy tax. There was nothing hiding the fact that you can safely risk more and win more -- everyone had full access to this knowledge -- it was published right at the place of purchase. It is not like it was some insider secret available to only to friends of some corrupt programmer or something. It took him only 3 minutes to figure it out. You or I could have done the same.

So, totally fair.

Unfair to the less clever players? How is it unfair? They can do the exact same strategy. It isn’t my fault of someone else doesn’t “get” it. It’s a game, not a civil right.

But the lottery is not a game of skill or knowledge. It's a game of chance!

In these cases the prize pool didn't roll over. The states wanted to entice people to play and they fully succeeded in that goal...

Lotteries are a regressive tax; I don't think this particular case was more or less regressive.

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