The Irish Lottery was about 3 years old when a lotto syndicate decided they were going to attempt to literally ‘buy’ the lotto. How could this be possible and surely it was very risky?
Well yes and no given that certain ‘conditions’ had aligned in the preceding weeks to make it possible – although not entirely without risk. However, it was a gamble they felt worth taking – particularly given that one of the syndicate members was the well-known publican and ex-international footballer Paddy Mulligan. In addition to being the owner of Scruffy Murphy’s Pub in Dublin’s Mount Street (it is now a hotel) he was renowned for being a man who liked a bet.
This popular Dublin watering hole was frequented by all sorts of characters, from literary types to financiers and politicians or office workers. In its heyday there were a number of Dublin’s top restaurants within walking distance and the pub proved to be a popular spot for before-dinner or after-dinner drinks – for some diners perhaps both.
However, it also became famous for another reason: its lotto win. This was where the plan to buy the Irish Lottery was hatched. A group of regulars put together an audacious to plan to purchase sufficient lottery tickets to cover all the possible winning combinations of the lotto draw and guarantee themselves a big profit.
One of the group, an accountant born in Cork, was something of a mathematical genius and had calculated that given the number of possible numbers that could be drawn and the fact that there hadn’t been a jackpot winner in recent weeks that it would be possible to cover all possible outcomes. Something that was aided by the fact that in addition to the jackpot prize, there were also lottery prizes for winning 3,4 and 5 combinations – which would add hundreds of thousands to their ‘winnings’.
Leading up to the draw the group had already filled out every possible winning combination on the paper slips provided by the Irish Lottery. Now they needed to visit different locations throughout the length and breadth of the country to purchase their lotto tickets. This was arranged in such a way so to avoid raising suspicion, or at least that is what they hoped.
In order for their gamble to work they knew it was important to purchase every possible combination of numbers. However, despite their best laid plans, Lottery Headquarters in Dublin became suspicious by mid-week, as there were reports of some shops taking in sales as much as 10 or 15 times more than usual. Naturally some members of the group became nervous as Saturday’s draw drew closer.
Accountant Stefan Klincewicz was the brains behind the operation, and he believed he had worked out which numbers were more likely to be drawn and so ticket purchasers were instructed to purchase the more likely combinations first, leaving the less likely ones until afterwards. Whatever mathematical formula Stefan used it worked out pretty well, because by Friday the Lotto operators had shut down some terminals and issued firm instructions to lotto agents selling tickets in Ireland that they were not authorised to sell more than 200% of the average ticket sales in the preceding 10 weeks.
There were reports circulating of shop owners with customers they had never seen before, arriving with £5,000 in cash to purchase their lotto tickets. Others were purported to have pulled down the shutters and were working through the night in order to process all the sales. This was a time before internet, of course, so everything had to be done laboriously by hand.
It is estimated the syndicate managed to purchase about 80% of all the dockets they had filled out – or £820,000 worth of sales in lottery tickets.
So the evening of the draw arrived, Saturday 30th May, 1992. As was the case at the time, the draw took place on the popular Pat Kenny show aired on RTE in their studios in Dublin 4 – ironically not too far from the pub in which the scheme was crafted.
Sure enough their winning combination was drawn, just as they had hoped. What they had not legislated for or could not prevent was the possibility of other players also drawing the winning numbers. As it transpired there were 2 other people who also held winning tickets. So it was a coup, but not the really big win they had hoped for given that those winnings had to be shared. The Match 4 and Match 5 loot prizes which were £100 or more brought their total winnings to a profitable level once their (considerable) expenses had been deducted.
There was some ill feeling between the Lotto organisers and the syndicate as the Irish Lottery Company were of the opinion that their efforts were not in the ‘spirit’ of the game and it introduced changes soon afterwards.
To prevent a recurrence, the National Lottery introduced a midweek draw and also increased the quantity of overall numbers, thus increasing the number of possible winning combinations to eliminate the chances of a similar event taking place again. Apologies if you got this far hoping to find a sure-fire way to win the lottery; you will just have to take your chances like everybody else!