Massachusetts State Lottery officials knew for years that a small group of gambling syndicates had virtually taken over a game called Cash WinFall — winning most of the prizes during high payoff periods — but did nothing about it until the Globe began investigating, according to state Inspector General Gregory W. Sullivan.
Sullivan’s report details the way a handful of math and science wizards, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology undergraduates looking for an interesting school project, turned Cash WinFall into a nearly full-time business, spending $40 million on tickets over a seven-year period and winning an estimated $48 million.
And lottery officials were happy about the huge sales to these sophisticated gamblers, bending and breaking lottery rules to allow them to buy hundreds of thousands of the $2 tickets, Sullivan found. If anything, lottery officials were envious, with one supervisor asking in an e-mail: “How do I become part of the club when I retire?”
State Treasurer Steven Grossman, who oversees the lottery, finally stopped the game this year. On Monday, Grossman said the agency should have taken action sooner.
“I feel it is important to essentially apologize to the public because a game was created that allowed syndicates to gain special opportunities that others did not have — using machines themselves, partnership with lottery agents, using them after hours. We’re sorry some gained unfair advantage,” said Grossman, who had requested Sullivan’s investigation.
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