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Bob55
05-30-2008, 11:45 PM
After losing my 3rd BK Indiana Jones scratchoff in a row (if you don't know, it's 50/50 chance of winning something), I got to thinking, why haven't I heard of some way to beat the scratch off system? It seems like someone would have developed something to see the underlying text and guarantee themselves free "6 pc chicken nuggets" for life. Is there no way to beat the scratch off? Is it more invincible than the best computer encryption?

Edit: And by "no way", I'm thinking X-ray machines, etc...

Justin_Bailey
05-31-2008, 12:15 AM
In 1992, Topps included a scratch-off card with each pack of Topps baseball cards. If a collector stratched off three "hits" before revealing three "outs" they would win a free pack of Topps Gold Winner cards.

By running a laser through the scratch-off area, you could see whether a hit or out was behind the scratch-off area. Topps had originally intended the Gold Winner series to be very limited (getting three "hits" without cheating was nigh-impossible), but this trick created a plentiful number of winners.

Scratch-off technology has improved since then and I've never seen the laser trick work on a scratch-off card since.

puppygod
05-31-2008, 05:07 AM
Once, just out of curiosity I lighted 5.000 W lamp through one scratch-off. You could see clear, although faint images underneath. Maybe they were improved since that time (it was, like, five years ago or more).

DanBlather
05-31-2008, 02:00 PM
The Discovery show "How's It Made" had a segment on scratch off ticlets. There were about 10 different layers of printing involved, including several layers of black and white ink.

elbows
05-31-2008, 02:03 PM
The catch with scratch off lotteries is that the prizes may have already all been won when you bought the ticket. Unlike 'pick a number' lotteries, where the tickets are good only until the draw date. So they just keep selling them until they are all sold. Even if the prizes have already been won!

When I learned this, it took all the joy out of scratch lottery tickets for me.

Bootis
05-31-2008, 02:14 PM
The catch with scratch off lotteries is that the prizes may have already all been won when you bought the ticket. Unlike 'pick a number' lotteries, where the tickets are good only until the draw date. So they just keep selling them until they are all sold. Even if the prizes have already been won!

When I learned this, it took all the joy out of scratch lottery tickets for me.

What? You're saying you could buy a 5$ scratch off, win 10,000$ on it,try to claim it and the lotto could tell you sorry, we're out of money?
I never heard of anything like this happeneing here.

mhendo
05-31-2008, 02:24 PM
The Discovery show "How's It Made" had a segment on scratch off ticlets. There were about 10 different layers of printing involved, including several layers of black and white ink.I saw that episode the other night, and came here to mention it.

I've only just discovered "How It's Made," and it's one of my new favorite shows.

Justin_Bailey
05-31-2008, 02:30 PM
What? You're saying you could buy a 5$ scratch off, win 10,000$ on it,try to claim it and the lotto could tell you sorry, we're out of money?
I never heard of anything like this happeneing here.

Agreed. A lottery commission pulling that in the US would be on the business end of a lawsuit right quick.

Of course, in the US, the money is not allocated for individual games. A $10,000 win on one game and a $2 win on another would come from the same pot.

MisterThyristor
05-31-2008, 02:35 PM
What? You're saying you could buy a 5$ scratch off, win 10,000$ on it,try to claim it and the lotto could tell you sorry, we're out of money?
I never heard of anything like this happeneing here.

No, what he means is that all of the $10,000 prizes may have already been sold, and you have no chance to get a $10,000 scratch off winner. If you scratch it off and it says $10,000, you get the $10,000. There may just be none of those tickes left.

But at least in Ohio, you can check and see if the top prizes are still available. Check out this (http://www.ohiolottery.com/games/instants/AllGames.aspx) page from the Ohio Lottery Instant Games for example. Notice that the Magnificent Millions is showing that there is no top prize available. No matter how many you buy, you can't win the top prize because it's already been claimed. If you go to the page for that game (http://www.ohiolottery.com/games/instants/GameDetails.aspx?Id=554), you can see that there are still other prizes left, and one chance to get a scratchoff that will enter you in a drawing for a top prize.

DesertDog
05-31-2008, 07:03 PM
The thing is, even if you could read the prize through the layers -- be it a 5,000 watt bulb, laser scanner, or even magic x-ray glasses (http://www.thegag.com/forum-24902.html) that at least have the advantage of being less conspicuous, do you really think the guy at BK is going to let you sift through his carton of tickets saying, "Nope. Nope. Nope. Aha! I want this one!"

mhendo
05-31-2008, 07:12 PM
The thing is, even if you could read the prize through the layers -- be it a 5,000 watt bulb, laser scanner, or even magic x-ray glasses (http://www.thegag.com/forum-24902.html) that at least have the advantage of being less conspicuous, do you really think the guy at BK is going to let you sift through his carton of tickets saying, "Nope. Nope. Nope. Aha! I want this one!"Depends what percentage you offer him.

Otto
05-31-2008, 08:26 PM
The thing is, even if you could read the prize through the layers -- be it a 5,000 watt bulb, laser scanner, or even magic x-ray glasses (http://www.thegag.com/forum-24902.html) that at least have the advantage of being less conspicuous, do you really think the guy at BK is going to let you sift through his carton of tickets saying, "Nope. Nope. Nope. Aha! I want this one!"

[obligatory Simpsons reference]

Homer: "Apu, I want to buy this [$500 winner] lottery ticket and this Yodel!"
Apu: "I'm sorry but you do not have enough for both."
Homer: "Aww...aww..awww...Yodel."

ZenBeam
05-31-2008, 09:39 PM
Depends what percentage you offer him.No cite, but I recall a local story ten or twenty years ago about a lottery dealer getting caught keeping the lottery tickets that were likely to be winners (or maybe selling them to friends). I'm not sure how he knew, maybe based on the serial numbers. So if he wanted to, maybe he already could.

ianzin
06-01-2008, 02:14 AM
It's an interesting question. In most cases, scratch cards are printed by security printing firms. Security printing is a very specialised part of the print industry, to the extent that it might even be considered an entirely separate industry. I wasn't really even aware of the security printing industry until I did some work that involved filming (for a video) inside a company that printed things like cheque books and credit cards. Getting in there was tough, like getting permission to go inside Fort Knox. Getting out was even tougher (they are more worried about what you might take out than they are about what you might bring in).

Scratch cards are big business, and it generates a lot of fairly easy profit for the operators. Obviously, if there were an illegitimate way to identify the winning tickets, the entire industry would collapse. So you can be sure they take great care to ensure that no, there's no viable way to ascertain a ticket's potential before you buy it and use it up. I would expect the security printing firm has to demonstrate that this is the case before it can land the contract to undertake the printing.

Most of the scams I've heard of pertaining to scratch cards are not to do with somehow 'seeing through' the scratchable layer. They have to do with buying the 'match any three symbols' kind of card, scratching all of the silver away to reveal all of the data, and then re-printing a scratchable layer on the card. In other words, the con is not about x-ray vision, it's about putting the silver back after scratching. This is easier to do than trying to see through the scratch layer, but it's still difficult for anyone who doesn't possess some big printing equipment.

Lakai
06-01-2008, 02:51 AM
Depends what percentage you offer him.

Or depending on whether you happen to work in a store that sells scratch offs.

*Goes shopping for a 5,000 watt light bulb*

ETA: OK, a 5,000 watt light build appears to be more expensive than I imagined. Forget that idea.

Bill Door
06-01-2008, 03:18 AM
No cite, but I recall a local story ten or twenty years ago about a lottery dealer getting caught keeping the lottery tickets that were likely to be winners (or maybe selling them to friends). I'm not sure how he knew, maybe based on the serial numbers. So if he wanted to, maybe he already could.

I was a New York State resident when the scratch off lottery was first started. They guaranteed vendors that out of a box of a certain size there would be a certain number of winners. Since most customers scratch the tickets immediately, a vendor who kept track might find that the ratio of winners to tickets left in the box was high enough to purchase all remaining tickets with a guaranteed positive outcome.

Even a government run lottery realized what a stupid idea that was, and quickly eliminated the "X winners per box" plan.

Lakai
06-01-2008, 03:35 AM
I was a New York State resident when the scratch off lottery was first started. They guaranteed vendors that out of a box of a certain size there would be a certain number of winners. Since most customers scratch the tickets immediately, a vendor who kept track might find that the ratio of winners to tickets left in the box was high enough to purchase all remaining tickets with a guaranteed positive outcome.

Even a government run lottery realized what a stupid idea that was, and quickly eliminated the "X winners per box" plan.

Even though "X winners per box" doesn't exist, it is really hard not to buy the 16th ticket after a guy just lost 15 in a row.

The Them
06-01-2008, 04:03 AM
This data is VERY old (>20 years), but it may still be relevent. In William Poundstone's Bigger Secrets, Poundstone mentions that scratch-off lottery tickets are essentially pre-won; the serial numbers of winning tickets are stored someplace secure, so that the lottery issuer can check any claimed winning tickets against actual winners. The serial number/winner relationship is (was) encrypted pretty well, but I've heard that few codes are truly unbreakable...Perhaps an enterprising math major is already quietly applying her/his skills...

Bosstone
06-01-2008, 04:47 AM
The thing is, even if you could read the prize through the layers -- be it a 5,000 watt bulb, laser scanner, or even magic x-ray glasses (http://www.thegag.com/forum-24902.html) that at least have the advantage of being less conspicuous, do you really think the guy at BK is going to let you sift through his carton of tickets saying, "Nope. Nope. Nope. Aha! I want this one!"Well, the current Burger King promo offers you a scratch-off with two sections, one with "Sorry, try again" and one with a minor prize, usually a food item. You can only scratch one; two will void the ticket. In this situation, if you have something that will show you what's underneath, you can easily make sure all the tickets you get are winners at home. They may just be for small fries and cheeseburgers, but you can coast for a while on free food that way, especially if the free food item gives you more tickets.

Schnitte
06-01-2008, 01:03 PM
No, what he means is that all of the $10,000 prizes may have already been sold, and you have no chance to get a $10,000 scratch off winner. If you scratch it off and it says $10,000, you get the $10,000. There may just be none of those tickes left.

But at least in Ohio, you can check and see if the top prizes are still available. Check out this (http://www.ohiolottery.com/games/instants/AllGames.aspx) page from the Ohio Lottery Instant Games for example. Notice that the Magnificent Millions is showing that there is no top prize available. No matter how many you buy, you can't win the top prize because it's already been claimed. If you go to the page for that game (http://www.ohiolottery.com/games/instants/GameDetails.aspx?Id=554), you can see that there are still other prizes left, and one chance to get a scratchoff that will enter you in a drawing for a top prize.

I was under the impression that they solved this problem by selling several series of tickets parallelly. If the number of claimed top prizes makes buying a ticket unattractive, they'd issue one (or more) new series of tickets under the same prize scheme. That way, they can make sure there's always a sufficient number of remaining top prizes available.

That's, however, just what I figured out when thinking about that problem. The web site you link to indicates that at least in Ohio, it's done differently.

MisterThyristor
06-01-2008, 02:45 PM
I was under the impression that they solved this problem by selling several series of tickets parallelly. If the number of claimed top prizes makes buying a ticket unattractive, they'd issue one (or more) new series of tickets under the same prize scheme. That way, they can make sure there's always a sufficient number of remaining top prizes available.

That's, however, just what I figured out when thinking about that problem. The web site you link to indicates that at least in Ohio, it's done differently.


Not in parallel, but sequentially. The sale of a given scratchoff goes on for a period of time, after which no more are sold, although prizes can be claimed for a given number of months. A new series is then started under basically the same name with the same rules, so people who always buy a certain name of scratchoff ticket can buy what they are used to.

One of the thing that was done to keep peoples' interest is the top prize drawing. They basically offer two of the top prize. One is a direct win by scratchoff, the other when scratched off shows "TPD" for top prize drawing. In other words, not the top prize, but a chance at the top prize, and there can be more of those given out than the one direct scratchoff prize. It loses the instantaneous win, which is what attracts people to scratchoffs, but people can feel that they still have a chance at the top money.

JSexton
06-01-2008, 05:20 PM
The thing is, even if you could read the prize through the layers -- be it a 5,000 watt bulb, laser scanner, or even magic x-ray glasses (http://www.thegag.com/forum-24902.html) that at least have the advantage of being less conspicuous, do you really think the guy at BK is going to let you sift through his carton of tickets saying, "Nope. Nope. Nope. Aha! I want this one!"
The format that the OP was talking about was ticket with two scratch areas. One side is a free big mac, and one side has nothing. You only win if you guess right, and you're only allowed to scratch off one side.

Magic X-ray glasses would be handy in this game.

Dewey Finn
06-01-2008, 06:11 PM
I seem to remember something (perhaps in one of the Big Secrets books) about how someone figured out the patterns to the scratch-off cards for some corporate contest. Imagine that the contest involved scratching out only three spots in a three-by-three matrix to complete a row or column in a tic-tac-toe game. As I recall, after scratching a bunch of cards, the person figured out how to predict the correct order to scratch off the spots, after exposing the first one.