Lottery officials this summer said they were surprised to learn that a handful of high-stakes gamblers had taken over one of their $2 games, with just three groups of bettors accounting for most of the winning tickets statewide at certain times. The lottery disciplined two sales agents who allowed the high-rollers to run the ticket machines themselves and announced new rules to limit the dominance of sophisticated bettors.
But the Globe has found that lottery managers for years allowed and some say even encouraged the groups to manipulate the game, Cash WinFall. They provided extra ticket machines and printers to accommodate the biggest player, a retired store owner from Michigan, so he could buy more tickets faster. Gerry Selbee, whose gambling group spent millions of dollars on the game, said the regional director in Western Massachusetts personally thanked him for propping up flat lottery sales.