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# Double Or Nothing Lottery Ticket

Scratch off the first of 20 windows...
 (+14) [vote for, against]

...you've got a1 in 3 chance of winning. So a one dollar lottery ticket has a one in three chance of a \$2 win.

Feeling lucky? Not willing to settle for a lousy 100% return? That's the spirit! Scratch off the next window. You've got a 1 in 5 chance of winning \$4. You won? You da man! Don't quit now big fella! Scratch off window number 3 for a 1 in 9 chance of winning \$8. 1 in 17 chance of 16 until you've got a 1 in 1 million and 1 chance of winning a million dollars. Of course if you get a picture of the a donkey's butt you loose whatever you had won up to that point.

No point scratching from the other direction. They all say "Winner! 1 million dollars!" at the end (Unless that's where the donkey is) But the donkey is hidden someplace else in the 20 or so squares. Plus now you can't win anything because you scratched off squares to the right of the donkey even if it's a hundred thousand dollar winning ticket for instance, so you have to scratch from the left and stop BEFORE you hit the donkey.

The "advantage" of this is you could honestly tell the suckers that there's a million dollar lottery ticket out there right now. All you have to do is keep scratching, even when you've won hundreds of thousands of dollars, to move to the next level.

When somebody cashes in that million dollar ticket because they decided to settle for ten grand, or a hundred grand, you simply announce the release of another million dollar ticket so there's ALWAYS a million dollar ticket in circulation.

I feel dirty for even thinking of this idea.

Donate the proceeds to children of families ruined by gambling addiction. There, I feel better now.

 — doctorremulac3, Jan 09 2016

[xaviergisz, Jan 12 2016]

Figures 10C and 10D [xaviergisz, Jan 12 2016]

Clever. Perhaps too clever.
 — pocmloc, Jan 09 2016

If by clever you mean "evil" yea. Hope I'm not going over to the dark side with age.
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 09 2016

 What interests me about this is that mathematically... well, you're better off not buying a ticket in the first place, obviously. But if you find one (and can't sell it on unscratched), I think you're better off on average scratching off every square, because each square gives successively better odds.

 If you lose at the first square, then... well, you're stuffed. But if you win, you're already won that gamble, so the next square has a risk of only 1/3-1/5 = 2/15 (~13.3%) of being the donkey, for a potential doubling of the payoff. And the next square a risk of 1/5-1/9 = 4/45 (~8.8%), again for a potential doubling, and so on.

 Your lottery would tend to get investor consortia buying back partially scratched tickets at a premium, and scratching the remainder themselves. So it devolves into a plain old one-in-a- million lottery.

Actually given the odds you give, there's at least one square which is not a doubling, but I think it holds up until then.
 — Loris, Jan 09 2016

 //I think you're better off on average scratching off every square, because each square gives successively better odds.//

 Sure, but realize you'll be taking a ticket worth \$100,000 and ruining it in the process of trying to find that million dollar ticket. In fact, you may go through several. On your way to that million dollar ticket you might accrue a pile of 10 ruined hundred thousand dollar tickets. Players getting "greedy" is exactly what you'd want. The house loves gamblers who double down.

 In all likelyhood, that million dollar ticket will be cashed in my somebody for \$20,000, which reminds me, the policy would have to be that you wouldn't tell the person who cashed in a million dollar ticket for a lesser amount since that would just be cruel and you're already probably dealing with a person who's not real well off.

Although you could have a tv show where the person gets their check and then scratches off the rest of the numbers. That would be pretty exciting actually. "Ok Mrs Snurd, here's your oversized check for \$20,000, are you ready to scratch off the rest of your ticket? And here she goes, looking for that donkey... OH NO! \$100,000! Ok, next squaaaare.... and \$500,000!!!!! Oh dear!" At this point she's broken into tears. The host does his phony consolation pat on the back. "Are you ready to scratch off the last square?" And iiiiiitttssss..... DONKEY!!!!!! So you got \$20,000, happy now?" She'd jump up and down happy that the ticket wasn't the big winner. It would be a weird show.
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 09 2016

I think what would work better is if every ticket was a possible winning million dollar ticket, but to collect you'd have to first scratch the correct one out of two, then one out of three, then one out of four, etc. etc. until the odds of successfully beating increasing odds equals one in a million.
What would the odds be of correctly guessing that one out of a hundred after correctly guessing the one out of all ninety nine preceding guesses?
 — 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 09 2016

 That sounds like Keno or Bingo. It's also confusing, and if I'm confused the general public isn't going to get it right off the bat either. This is easy as it would have to be.

 With this you'd have money in your hand and you get to keep to or gamble it away for much more, the idea being that most people would probably keep the winning ticket for a lesser amount that it's worth allowing you to tell people, truthfully, that there's a million dollar ticket someplace in your local.

 I think gamblers like the rush and drama, so if you're sitting there with \$20,000 in your hand knowing it could actually be a million if you're willing to risk it, well... I guess you'd get lots of drama out of it. no matter what you did.

 More than I'd want, but for the gambling inclined, this seems like it would give them a lot more of what they want, namely excitement I guess.

But wow, the feeling you'd get standing outside a corner store holding a half million dollars in your hand one second and a useless piece of paper the next if you continued scratching would be, well... I guess you could call that excitement. I'm not the person to judge this though, I'd settle for the 2 bucks then never play again after the first time I lost.
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 10 2016

 My Donkey Butt detector Is going to to sell very well, When this Idea takes off.

Available in small, medium, and extra large.
 — popbottle, Jan 10 2016

Ah, I get it, it's 'don't' pin the tail on the donkey.
 — 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 10 2016

 How does this work practically? Scratch tickets already "know" their payouts, it can be checked via barcode without scratching anything on the ticket. (Some lotteries hide the barcode under a scratch area.)

 Variable prize amount tickets would need to function under a different method, one that is encoded into the system and not dependent on the service station cashier being able to count scratch marks. At best a ticket could have encoded a maximum possible payout but that is still not enough information.

I foresee a lot of arguments with Donnie at 7-11 about whether the donkey's butt was scratched, so to speak.
 — tatterdemalion, Jan 10 2016

 I'm not seeing the problem here.

 The lottery ticket has a code on it. One ticket might have "Payout \$2 through \$20,000" It would be worth whatever the person scratched up to. If he only scratched up to the \$10,000 win, that's a ten thousand dollar ticket.

As far as arguing if the donkey was scratched or not, does it have a scratch on it? Then it's scratched. Like I said, missing the problem here.
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 10 2016

I do think, though, that technologies would quickly emerge to read the symbols through the scratchable layer, or to un-scratch scratched panels.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2016

 I was thinking about that. You could have no picture until you scratched at which time you mix two chemicals together that develop the picture.

 Or something, basically outsmart the hackers.

Plus, make it clear on the ticket that you go to prison of you get caught trying to mess with the system since that would be fraud. This money is available to those who properly used the system. If they usurp the system they go to jail.
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 10 2016

 //you go to prison of you get caught trying to mess with the system since that would be fraud//

I think asking for a new law just to suit the lottery organization would be pushing it.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2016

Oldest existing law on the book. Falsification of legal documents for financial gain.
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 10 2016

 // As far as arguing if the donkey was scratched or not, does it have a scratch on it? Then it's scratched. Like I said, missing the problem here.

 "I didn't scratch it, my finger slipped, my glasses fell off and hit it, it rubbed against something in my pocket, it was like that when you sold it to me, etc etc...."

 You're not seeing a problem with having the prize amount be determined by the part time convenience clerk? It's their judgment call and they don't get paid enough to listen to the arguments that will be created by this information not being encoded on the ticket. You will have fist fights break out over this.

There needs to be a system that the clerk can verify the prize by scanning the ticket or something like that. If you leave it to the clerk to decide, it's a matter of time before someone beats the shit out of him.
 — tatterdemalion, Jan 11 2016

The verification and payout happens somewhere different.
 — pocmloc, Jan 11 2016

 //"I didn't scratch it, my finger slipped, my glasses fell off and hit it, it rubbed against something in my pocket, it was like that when you sold it to me, etc etc...."//

 Your saying that this won't work because people would lose and say they accidentally scratched the ticket like telling the casino that they accidentally dropped a thousand dollars on 7 black?

 There's stiff competition Tat but that may be the silliest argument against an idea I've ever heard.

And as poc pointed out, the clerk has nothing to do with it. The squares after the winning square have to be 100% intact. The purchaser would need to verify they were upon receipt and if they were attacked by a 8 foot tall Martian rabbit from Jupiter who scratched it that would be their problem. They need to protect that ticket.
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 11 2016

 //Players getting "greedy" is exactly what you'd want. The house loves gamblers who double down.//

 Ordinarily that would be the case, but for the odds you give the risk is concentrated in the early stages of the game.

 //I'm not the person to judge this though, I'd settle for the 2 bucks then never play again after the first time I lost.//

 Look at it like this. I try to never take a risk where the risk*hazard is greater than the payoff*probability of success. Which means for example that I never play the lottery, roulette and so on. But if you had a \$1 ticket with the first square scratched off, with a face value of \$2, I'd buy it off you for...say, \$2.50 and scratch off the next square.You've taken (and passed) the one-in-three hurdle, which means that the chance of the donkey being in the next square is only one-in-three minus one-in-five, or about 13.3% . So if I stopped there, then 13.3% of the time I'd lose \$2.50, and 86.6% of the time I'd win and be \$1.50 up. If I could do this many times, then overall I'd be in profit. For example, I could do it 100 times, and I'd expect to win around 86 times, with winnings of \$344, and have costs of \$250, for an overall profit of \$94.

Of course I don't have to stop there, and can go on scratching off squares as long as the probability is in my favour.
 — Loris, Jan 11 2016

 // There's stiff competition Tat but that may be the silliest argument against an idea I've ever heard.

 I'll presume that's overstating things somewhat, or else you need to get out more often. Either way, uncalled for I think. If true, you're not understanding it then. I've explained as best I can and you're not hearing it, no matter.

 //the clerk has nothing to do with it. The squares after the winning square have to be 100% intact.

 Who verifies the latter, if not the clerk? To [pocmloc],'s observation, how does the verification work? This was my initial question. A clerk looking at it and saying you won or you didn't, this is not a functional verification method.

This is a solvable problem but you have to acknowledge it's a problem first. Look into how any other lottery verification is done. It has to be electronically verifiable. They are not paying gas station store clerks enough to be in a position of determining who wins these things.
 — tatterdemalion, Jan 11 2016

 Yes, there is an issue. For instance, I buy a ticket, and I win \$100,000. That's a lot of money.

The ticket arrives at Lotto Central for verification, and they discover a hairline scratch on the next window. With a powerful enough magnifier, you can see that the next window is the donkey's backside. The scratch was almost too small to see, and was caused by the fingernail of the person who sold it to me. Where does that leave me and my \$100,000?
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 11 2016

Should have checked for microscopic scratches at the time of purchase. Sorry. Better luck next time!
 — pocmloc, Jan 11 2016

 //Where does that leave me and my \$100,000?//

 "Your" \$100,000? Hope that answers the question. ;)

 Of course, you could just have this all done digitally. You've just got a screen and it says "Are you sure you want to scratch off this next number?"

 I think the paper is doable though. Use chemistry or science or something. If a little science doesn't work just add some more.

 As far as the exact odds to balance playability with profitablilty, I'd let people with worse physiques than me figure that out. I can bench press 225 pounds so obviously, not so good with the maths.

 But seriously, ok, to scratch the thing off first you have to actually tear a little tab of paper off! You grab a little tab and physically rip off some protective paper before you can scratch it. It says "Caution! Removal of this paper means you've committed to scratching the next square whether you mean to or not!"

Ah ha! Beat THAT system! (Knowing full well one of you probably will)
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 11 2016

 Well, yeah, OK, it could sort of work.

 Howevertheless, people will very quickly find ways to beat it. Like putting the un-scratched cards through a terahertz scanner or something.

 I think there's more promise in making it digital, because (a) it makes it more secure/verifiable and (b) it gives you lots more options for interactivity.

 So, you buy your ticket, and scratch off one panel to reveal a ten-digit number. You then go to the online internet webpagesite and enter that ten- digit number. THEN you see if you've won the minimum prize, and if so you have the option to try for the next level.

There could be all sorts of online options - for example, for low-value prizes you could buy "insurance" (at a calculated price) to allow you to undo the scratching of the next cell - unlimitless possibilities! The person has already gambled by buying the ticket, but by having the online options you can draw them in deeper and screw more money from them.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 11 2016

I see no limit to the un-limitlessness of this.
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 11 2016

 I like this idea.

 Regarding a protective tamper-evident seal, like the paper tabs: I was going to suggest something like that, but my idea was not as good. Regardless, anyone who follows security conferences knows that most tamper- evident seals can be defeated without too much difficulty, and I suspect paper tabs can be.

Regarding online lottery tickets: I think that's very good and has loads of advantages, as said, but the people who buy lottery tickets seem to me to be the sort of people to not trust an online lottery. With paper tickets, they know the lottery company can't manipulate them after they've bought them.
 — notexactly, Jan 11 2016

Could do some kind of combo where you insert the ticket, scratch it "virtually" with a touch screen and it print the winning or losing art in the machine itself.
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 11 2016

Wouldn't that just be using the paper as a display device for what's still a computer-operated lottery ticket?
 — notexactly, Jan 12 2016

 Yea, but I was thinking you get a certain satisfaction from holding the ticket. But I don't know, I've played the lottery exactly once. When I was a kid in the 80s when the California lottery came out my girlfriend bought me about fifty bucks worth of tickets as a present that after about 10 minutes of scratching rendered me about 20 bucks. So I did the math, that I was paying about \$180 an hour for the joy of scratching at little pieces of paper. Point is, that one addiction, joy of gambling, is lost on me. The other ones I get. This one, not so much.

That being said I suppose it stimulates some endorphin release so I guess you could say this was the equivalent of a "time release" medicine since the process involves winning something, then gambling again after thinking about it. Then again, and again. More endorphins I guess.
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 12 2016

 OK here's a solution to beat those trying to game the system with MRS, electron microscopes, or microscopic scratches.

 Adjust the odds, to make the average of all maximum payouts, less than the cost of the ticket.

That way at best, either through daring luck, or through cheating, you will not quite break even. And even if a consortium operates a massive hi-tech cheating operation, the lottery organiser will still make a modest profit.
 — pocmloc, Jan 12 2016

 Hmm. Would that work? I like solutions like that. As long as you could retain the joy of doubling down part.

 By the way, just occurred to me, you don't need to start the winning at \$2. On some tickets you could have the first one say 50 cents, like "Wanna quit at only losing half a buck? No? Ok, scratch the next one."

 Here's the deal, of all gambling plots, and they should be called plots, this one would employ the mathematicians the most because they'd a need to strike a balance between playability and profitability.

 I'm thinking you might get the most playability out of smaller payoffs, like winning, 1 buck, 1.50, 2.25, 3. I actually like that. You're still getting the excitement of watching the number go up but have the early numbers be pretty small. 1, 1.25, 1.75, 2.50, 3.50, 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, 160 etc.

 If you could leave the sucker with the "knowledge" that, out of that pile of tickets he scratched, if he had just quit at point X, he would have made \$200. He had that money "Right there in his hands!"

This really is pure evil. Maybe I'll patent it and use the proceeds to open up a gambling treatment center. One on the beach with a helicopter pad and a 50 foot yacht.
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 12 2016

 Pull tab tickets are fairly common, there might be a way to rig up a tab such that it is tamper proof. Probably not, but it would work better than scratchy opaque material.

 Digital is the way to go, and it might be necessary. The legal definition differs place to place but by most interpretations this would not qualify as a lottery, which is generally just purchasing a chance at a prize, you win or you don't, but the only option is to have the ticket or not. If they pick your numbers you get the prize, as in conventional lotteries, bingo and keno games, etc. Scratch cards are pre-determined but it's the same idea, you win or you don't.

If you have to make a decision and put winnings at risk, that's straight up gambling. So it might be more appropriate in a casino anyway, where patrons are preconditioned to use video devices. This could also allow for some variations in the theme of play, instead of the ass of an ass, it could be a high-low card sort of game for example.
 — tatterdemalion, Jan 12 2016

 //Maybe I'll patent it//

Not now you can't. Despite the fact that the HB is haunted only by us weirdos, it still counts as public disclosure.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 12 2016

 re: patents. There are several countries which have a 'grace period' which prevents your own disclosure from being cited as prior art. So you could still get a patent.

I've had a quick look for prior art. I haven't found anything particularly close, but I've linked to a few that might lead to something better.
 — xaviergisz, Jan 12 2016

 //Not now you can't. Despite the fact that the HB is haunted only by us weirdos, it still counts as public disclosure//

 There's a grace period as Xav mentioned. I have till January 9th, 2017. The deadline for filing is 12 months after publishing in the U.S.

 Somebody else does all the paperwork and sells the idea I'll split it with them. But don't get cute and think you can steal it. Remember, in exactly 362 days this idea becomes public domain and anybody can use it. I still claim priority with this published documentation.

Tick tock, tick tock, don't let your big chance get away lucky reader!
 — doctorremulac3, Jan 12 2016

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