The state of North Carolina has noticed an increase in repeat winners for large prize scratch off tickets.  As reported in a special investigation by the Charlotte News & Observer, the number of NC players who have submitted multiple winning tickets has increased from 59 players in 2009 up to 223 players in 2015. From among these winners, one female player claimed 21 winning tickets in 2014 and another 17 winning tickets in 2015.  Another case involved a players who has claimed a total of 55 winning tickets in the last eight years, each of which yielded prizes of $600 or more.

The increase in the number of repeat winners is outpacing the increase in total winners, bringing the phenomenon into question.  According to a VA Tech statistician involved in the investigation, the odds of these types of repeat winnings are less than one in one trillion, trillion, trillion.  If the odds are this steep, how are these players winning over and over?

There are a few reasons why individuals could possibly achieve multiple large winnings when playing lottery scratch off tickets.  1. They are extremely lucky and are just naturally defying the odds with their super luck. Based on the odds, this is not the likely scenario, though it is the applicable explanation in some cases.  2. They are ‘gaming’ the system. 3. They are doing something illegal to achieve their winning tickets.  The investigation of some 189,000 winning claims from 2006 to late 2015 was conducted in an effort to find some insight into how so many players are winning multiple large prizes.

None of the winners who were included in the analysis were accused of any type of wrongdoing.  However, the state’s lottery experts could not rule out that other tactics could be in play.  Some possibilities include players spending a large sum of money on ticket purchases and only playing games with large prize payouts, or searching for winning tickets that were accidentally discarded.  There are also some options that either break or bend the rules that could also be assisting some players.

There have been store clerks or even owners who steal wining tickets from customers, convincing the customer that they didn’t win and then claiming the prize themselves.  This is of course illegal.  It is not difficult to convince players who are easily manipulated to comply with forfeiting their tickets in this case.  Purchasing your lottery tickets online through a legitimate agent eliminates the likelihood that a store clerk could attempt to defraud you of your winnings or that another customer could try to scam or steal from you.  This is one advantage to playing scratch off lottery tickets online.

Another possibility that would explain the repeat winning claims is that people are buying winning tickets from players at a discounted rate that is less than the actual prize amount.  This can be an attractive option for someone who wins a scratch off game but is at risk for having a portion or all of the money withheld due to back taxes or unpaid child support.  By selling the ticket below value, they get to keep the entire sale amount and not get hit with taxes or child support enforcement.

Ticket discounting is not illegal in North Carolina, and is preferable to players who don’t want to loose their winnings to pay their existing debt to the state.  Many feel that ticket discounting should be made illegal because it allows individuals who have incurred debt to the state to ‘skirt’ the issue while having extra cash for themselves, disenfranchising single parents who are owed child support payments.

While purely lucky individuals are probably not the largest segment of repeat winners, this does seem to be the explanation for some of the most prolific winners in the analysis.  One man has claimed a whopping 55 winning tickets that total in excess of $1 million.  Lady luck does still pay some lucrative visits to her chosen suitors it would seem.