Welcome Guest
Log In | Register )
You last visited December 10, 2016, 7:35 am
All times shown are
Eastern Time (GMT-5:00)

Wisconsin Lottery switches to computers to select winning numbers

Wisconsin LotteryWisconsin Lottery: Wisconsin Lottery switches to computers to select winning numbers

Editor: The following is the full-text of a Press Release issued by the Wisconsin Lottery.  It is important for Lottery Players to understand the emerging trend of computerized lottery drawings -- whether you are for or against them.  More information about the subject can be found in the Lottery Post Petition for True Lottery Drawings.







The Wisconsin Lottery is now one of more than a dozen U.S. lotteries to use random number generating computers to select the winning numbers for its nightly on-line games, Michael J. Edmonds, Acting Lottery Director said last week.

"Random number generators have become the standard," said Edmonds. "They are secure and cost effective."

Edmonds said the Lottery began to research random number generators as it faced the prospect of having to replace its aging inventory of mechanical ball machines. The newest mechanical draw machines are seven years old; several back up machines were purchased more than 10 years ago. Replacing them would cost the Lottery anywhere from $125,000-$200,000. By contrast, the total cost for three computers with three certified random number generator (RNG) programs and the cabinets to house them was $11,000.

But Edmonds said it was the security of the new computerized system that sealed the deal.

"We wouldnt have made the switch if we thought there was anything that could compromise the integrity of our drawings," Edmonds said.

The RNG programs used by the Lottery were certified by Gaming Laboratories International of Lakewood, New Jersey and were installed on three computers in the presence of independent auditors and Lottery security personnel. The RNG drawing computers are "stand alone" units: They are not hooked up to a network of any kind, meaning no one can "hack" into them to manipulate drawing results.

Each night within the Lotterys secure computer room a Capitol Police Officer and an independent auditor randomly select one of the RNG units for that nights drawings. Along with a Lottery drawing staff employee they open the locked, sealed cabinet in which the selected machine is kept and test the RNG program a minimum of 10 times. They then conduct the drawings by following a strict set of procedures and verify and affirm the results. As has always been the case, all activity within the drawing room is recorded and members of the public may witness the drawings.

Within the region, the Minnesota, Missouri and Indiana lotteries also use RNG computers for their drawings.

Lottery Post Staff

We'd love to see your comments here!  Register for a FREE membership — it takes just a few moments — and you'll be able to post comments here and on any of our forums. If you're already a member, you can Log In to post a comment.

41 comments. Last comment 12 years ago by CASH Only.
Page 1 of 3
LosingJeff's avatar - flower
Greenfield
United States
Member #3587
February 2, 2004
557 Posts
Offline
Posted: November 11, 2004, 6:40 pm - IP Logged

Just another sad story---especially for the ppl of Wisconsin.


    United States
    Member #60
    October 28, 2001
    455 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: November 11, 2004, 7:13 pm - IP Logged

    I just have 3 questions:

    If these machines are stand-alone machines;

    (1). Are they tied to the online system (For reading all combo's played throughout the State of    Wisconsin) via Satlink?

    (2). Will there be a televised display where the generated action can be viewed by the public?

    (3). Would the public have access to the original documents and agreements in principle, as to a standard binding policy of drawing operations for the Director of Wisconsin's Lottery?

    These people are doing whatever they want and no one is checking them on it.

    lottoscorp ...

     

     

      Badger's avatar - adu50016 NorthAmericanBadger.jpg
      Wisconsin
      United States
      Member #1303
      March 27, 2003
      1508 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: November 11, 2004, 8:14 pm - IP Logged

      It really is bad ! Frankly, now I wonder what is the point in trying to use any kind of method at all for my state now? 

      If the RNGs are truly random, there will be no patterns to find. So there is nothing left but quickpicks if you want to play. I mean,. why waste valuable time and energy on it if there is nothing but truly random picks?

      I should have figured. Wisconsin is the 3rd highest taxed state in the USA, and the state govt is the stingiest and tightest when it comes to letting the people have anything back.

      Depressing......

      ============

      How can you tell if a politician is lying?

      Answer: His lips are moving.

        fast eddie's avatar - lasvegas2
        Chicago,IL.
        United States
        Member #2902
        November 29, 2003
        1427 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: November 11, 2004, 8:18 pm - IP Logged

          RNG = FIX

        "Money won is twice as sweet as money earned"

          Avatar
          Urbandale, IA
          United States
          Member #8624
          November 11, 2004
          115 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: November 11, 2004, 8:55 pm - IP Logged

          Pooh!  I know that there are some who suggest that RNGS are not as secure, but RNG's are actually much more secure.  Mechanical drawing machines have certainly been compromised and it takes a lot less skill to get that done.  Our group builds RNG's for lotteries - though we do it at cost and so promoting it to make a profit is truly not an issue here.

          Our machines are TRUE RNG's, using unpredictable quantum decay to create the seed.  The machines are locked up tight with no operator access to the OS.  The results produced by the RNG are hashed and can be checked only by a program given to a third party.  We put the electronics in a lighted clear case so that each component can be number-sealed and checked by an auditor.  Finally, the whole thing (hardware and software) is tested and certified by GLI (the folks who are the premier testing firm in the slots/VLT industry).

          There is lots more security and testing capabilities that I can't go into here, but nobody on this side wants to see a lottery scandal (since that would mean we would be doing something else - probably involving a Slurpy(TM) machine) and so we go to great effort to ensure that the drawings are fair.

            MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
            Beautiful Florida
            United States
            Member #5709
            July 18, 2004
            20124 Posts
            Online
            Posted: November 11, 2004, 9:17 pm - IP Logged

            this is really a sad day for all the lottery players in wisconsin, for all lottery players everywhere !!!!!

                                                         

                                                           "  When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty "

              Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
              Chief Bottle Washer
              New Jersey
              United States
              Member #1
              May 31, 2000
              23275 Posts
              Online
              Posted: November 11, 2004, 9:18 pm - IP Logged
              Quote: Originally posted by chuck32 on November 11, 2004



              Pooh!  I know that there are some who suggest that RNGS are not as secure, but RNG's are actually much more secure.  Mechanical drawing machines have certainly been compromised and it takes a lot less skill to get that done.  Our group builds RNG's for lotteries - though we do it at cost and so promoting it to make a profit is truly not an issue here.

              Our machines are TRUE RNG's, using unpredictable quantum decay to create the seed.  The machines are locked up tight with no operator access to the OS.  The results produced by the RNG are hashed and can be checked only by a program given to a third party.  We put the electronics in a lighted clear case so that each component can be number-sealed and checked by an auditor.  Finally, the whole thing (hardware and software) is tested and certified by GLI (the folks who are the premier testing firm in the slots/VLT industry).

              There is lots more security and testing capabilities that I can't go into here, but nobody on this side wants to see a lottery scandal (since that would mean we would be doing something else - probably involving a Slurpy(TM) machine) and so we go to great effort to ensure that the drawings are fair.





              Your RNGs may be the best, but that's not the point.  A hacker can get in - that's a fact.  There is no such thing as a foolproof security system.  Plus, humans are still involved in the drawing process, and that's always a big weak point.  Just like the $1 million insider scam in Indiana this week. 

              It is not a simple technology issue as you seem to be suggesting.

              I am the world's biggest supporter of technology (you can see I'm a propeller-head, having created this web site myself), so you cannot accuse me of being anti-RNG or anti-technology.  I'm just looking out for what's best for the players.

               

              Check the State Lottery Report Card
              What grade did your lottery earn?

               

              Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
              Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                Badger's avatar - adu50016 NorthAmericanBadger.jpg
                Wisconsin
                United States
                Member #1303
                March 27, 2003
                1508 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: November 11, 2004, 9:55 pm - IP Logged
                Quote: Originally posted by lottoscorp on November 11, 2004



                I just have 3 questions:

                If these machines are stand-alone machines;

                (1). Are they tied to the online system (For reading all combo's played throughout the State of    Wisconsin) via Satlink?

                (2). Will there be a televised display where the generated action can be viewed by the public?

                (3). Would the public have access to the original documents and agreements in principle, as to a standard binding policy of drawing operations for the Director of Wisconsin's Lottery?

                These people are doing whatever they want and no one is checking them on it.

                lottoscorp ...

                 

                 





                Lottoscorp,

                Wisconsin ceased televising any of its drawings at the beginning of the year. They claim it cost them too much. So now we get a "secret" drawing that only the lottery officials view, them they tell us what happened.

                As far as them doing whatever they want....it's much the same as our politicians here. They seem to do whatever they want. ANd the people are getting highly pissed off !

                ============

                How can you tell if a politician is lying?

                Answer: His lips are moving.

                  Avatar
                  Urbandale, IA
                  United States
                  Member #8624
                  November 11, 2004
                  115 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: November 11, 2004, 10:03 pm - IP Logged

                  I do agree that any computer system can be compromised (as can a mechanical system).  It is a constant battle to study what has gone wrong and what might go wrong so that we can stay ahead of the bad guys.  You are quite right that humans are a big problem.  Even with our RNG, if the independent auditor, the lottery person (or persons for many states) and someone at the control ageny (in WI's case, the Department of Revenue) conspire together, they can put out a press release with any numbers as the winning numbers.  Add in us or GLI and you could even have the RNG spit out a planned number.  Of course, none of us can play and some someone else would have to collect the money - the issues go on and on.

                  As I tell players who write to ask how they can be assured that lottery games are fair - you can't, unless you plan to attend every drawing and stand at every computer site at all times (and have the knowledge to know what you are observing).  The best that an average player can do is to trust the independent auditors (and their insurance companies who will pay in the dvent of fraud or negligence), the system and procedural audits done by third parties, and the fact that multiple persons would be required to compromise the system (in the end, most humans also talk or get greedy).

                  As you know, Todd, we also run mechanical drawings for lotteries too.  We go to great effort to ensure that those are fair (I don't think I would be exagerating to say that they are the most secure mechanical drawings on the planet), but I would rather put my faith in the RNG. 

                  I do know that since most people have lots of experience with computers, they know that computers can fail and can be compromised - but I suspect that players can also figure out ways to compromise a mechanical drawing.  Our RNG is designed a little differently than others.  We don't rely on secure programming alone, but take the view that any computer program can be hacked.  Our RNG's are designed to be treated like a mechanical draw machine.  They are built (hardware and software) by more than one person, then thoroughly tested by an independent lab (code is examined), sealed and delivered to a lottery that does more testing.  Like mechanical machines, they are locked up and accessed only by a minimum of two persons from different firms (usually more with lottery, audit firm, and some kind of outside security officer).  I think this is key.  We don't put all of our faith in a secure computer program alone.  Like a mechanical drawing machine, the system must never be available to a single person.  Even though we are extremly confident that no one can compromise it if they did have single access, we simply know better than to use words like ALWAYS, NEVER, etc.  We must assume that someone is always smarter.

                  In the end, if the RNG's are properly built, tested, and secured (just like must be the case with a mechanical machine), then they can be even more secure.  Just about anyone off the street, given access, can come up with a way to compromise a mechanical system.  An RNG requires much more skill (and I assume that someone out there can find a way to beat security, given enough time).

                  To answer a previous question, the machines are not connected to the outside.  They exist and operated in a locked room with no external connections. 

                  -Chuck

                    Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                    Chief Bottle Washer
                    New Jersey
                    United States
                    Member #1
                    May 31, 2000
                    23275 Posts
                    Online
                    Posted: November 11, 2004, 11:16 pm - IP Logged

                    By the way, Chuck, good to have you on board.  Too many in the industry treat the players in a very disconnected manner, and you are always very open and communicative - and sensitive to the feelings of the players.  I'm sure others here would agree.

                    I'm sure this issue will not go away for a long time - if ever.  There will always be players who do not like computerized drawings.  There is also a large block of players who don't care either way.

                    I guess my main sticking points boil down to:


                    • I perceive that there are far fewer players who dislike mechanical drawing machines than those who dislike computerized drawings.  There is something real and comforting about seeing those ping pong balls come out of a real machine.

                    • There is no way for a person to actually witness a computerized drawing - which will breed suspicion (which is like poison to a lottery)

                    • I have not seen any budget which makes an overwhelming case to go to computerized drawings.  A savings of $200k per year is nothing compared to $1 billion in revenues - and the $200k could easily be lost in player erosion.

                    The bottom line is that I really don't see the burning need to go to computerized drawings - even if some people think it's "technically" better.  Other people feel the same way.  Therefore, the logical extension of this thought is that if there is no burning need to transition, then why are the lotteries really doing it?  Does it give them room to hide something?

                    Again, I am not someone prone to conspiracy theories (as any regular visitor here would tell you), but this is what runs through players' minds.

                     

                    Check the State Lottery Report Card
                    What grade did your lottery earn?

                     

                    Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                    Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                      Avatar
                      Urbandale, IA
                      United States
                      Member #8624
                      November 11, 2004
                      115 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: November 12, 2004, 12:21 am - IP Logged

                      Giving a human response (rather than the corporate response) can sometimes get you into trouble - though not as much as I might have thought.  I can think of only a few times that players ended up threatening me or sending a note of complaint to a governor somewhere.  And I did get several hate mails (from all over the world) following my recent criticsim of the moralists in Idaho who are teaching children about the sin of the lottery.  But, generally, people do respond better to a "real" response.  We did have someone else writing for a while - using the standard corporate response ("Thanks for writing and for taking the time to ask a question.  If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask.") - but it just wasn't working (though we never had one complaint).

                      Your point that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is a good one.  You would be surprised, though how important these "little dollars" can be.  A lottery can bring in hundreds of millions for a state and still have a legislature or governor cut a few hundred dollars for a trip to pick up a new idea.  Especially in these times, lotteries see their budgets cut all the time.  A $100k here and and there, as they say, can add up to real money.  Remember that last year, one state dropped lottery ad dollars to $0.  Another state prohibits any lottery action that encourages people to play.  And, of course, lotteries frequently run up against legislators who believe that all you have to do to increase profits is to cut the prize payout percentage.

                      You also make a good point about players being able to "observe" a mechanical drawing.  They can go in and watch the RNG being operated too, but I agree that people have a perception that they are able to judge a mechanical drawing as fair.  Of course, only .00000001% of the players actually attend a drawing (I just looked that number up!).

                      I'm glad that players feel comfortable with mechanical draws.  I can understand that perception, but , of course, the real security issues are no different.  With just a little more conspiracy theory paranoia <G>, one can pretty quickly dismiss a mechanical drawing too.  In the end, as you say, the players will ultimately control what a lottery will do. 

                      Whew!  Am I ever verbose.  Time to get back to work.

                        JADELottery's avatar - MeAtWork 03.PNG
                        The Quantum Master
                        West Concord, MN
                        United States
                        Member #21
                        December 7, 2001
                        3675 Posts
                        Online
                        Posted: November 12, 2004, 4:20 am - IP Logged

                        I've heard it said by someone before that the balls have no memory and you can't predicted what will occur. Now that computers are picking the numbers, they do now.

                        If there are any lottery program developers out there reading in on this, you need to revise your probability theory, statistical analysis, and calculated predictions. Computers can only simulate real world conditions; for this, there is a possibility that trends that once exsisted in the natural world may now be enhanced by the narrow view of the virtual world. Also, it has now become the players responsibility to audit the randomness of the lottery draw dvent. Developers should exploit this fact to whatever ends and means they see fit.

                        Presented 'AS IS' and for Entertainment Purposes Only.
                        Any gain or loss is your responsibility.
                        Use at your own risk.

                        Order is a Subset of Chaos
                        Knowledge is Beyond Belief
                        Wisdom is Not Censored
                        Douglas Paul Smallish
                        Jehocifer

                          Badger's avatar - adu50016 NorthAmericanBadger.jpg
                          Wisconsin
                          United States
                          Member #1303
                          March 27, 2003
                          1508 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: November 12, 2004, 7:20 am - IP Logged
                          Quote: Originally posted by JADELottery on November 12, 2004



                          I've heard it said by someone before that the balls have no memory and you can't predicted what will occur. Now that computers are picking the numbers, they do now.

                          If there are any lottery program developers out there reading in on this, you need to revise your probability theory, statistical analysis, and calculated predictions. Computers can only simulate real world conditions; for this, there is a possibility that trends that once exsisted in the natural world may now be enhanced by the narrow view of the virtual world. Also, it has now become the players responsibility to audit the randomness of the lottery draw dvent. Developers should exploit this fact to whatever ends and means they see fit.





                          Jade,

                          I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. If a computer program is developed to pick lottery combos, how could any trends even exist?  To make it as simple as possible, say there are a thousand possible combinations. The computer could simply generate a whole number from 1 to 1,000...then count down the list of all combinations, and voila ; it spits out the combination that is "x" number of combinations down the list.

                          The next day it does the same thing, but with a different generated whole number from 1 to 1,000. It could be ANY generated whole number; there is nothing at all to tie it to a previous "drawing" at all...it is just a completely random generated whole number ; unrelated to anything else.

                          How can there even BE any trends?

                          BTW-- since lotteries are now more and more using computers, they should stop calling them "drawings". There is nothing being "drawn".  They should call them something ese that more accurately reflects what they are really doing.

                          Badger

                          ============

                          How can you tell if a politician is lying?

                          Answer: His lips are moving.

                            DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
                            Yinzer Country, PA
                            United States
                            Member #4067
                            March 18, 2004
                            2741 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: November 12, 2004, 11:17 am - IP Logged

                            Quoting Badger:

                            "Ever notice when you put the words "The IRS" together, it spells THEIRS ?"



                            No I have not, but it is pretty funny though.

                            I've redone my website.  Go to www.dr-ew.com.  I kept a lot of the old stuff, and I've added some new stuff.  Look for more new stuff in the coming weeks.