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Few years ago I wrote sth similar for registering to popular courses at my university. A lot of CS students gets an edge doing that.

Moreover, I have also participated in a few lotteries for various things (e.g. Half Dome permit), but did that completely by the book.

A few things that help make system fair (TM):

- price them right, maybe even charge a bit premium for reservation vs. walk-ins

- make cancelation non-free and charge at reservation time, even a few dollars prevents spurious reservations "just in case"

- have a waiting list, if there is a cancellation, you can automatically sell it to someone else

- do some load management, e.g. weekend prices, discounts...




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