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Newspaper Editorial: Biggest error was switching to computerized draws

Editorial / OpinionEditorial / Opinion: Newspaper Editorial: Biggest error was switching to computerized draws
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Players won't participate in a lottery they can't trust

By Tennessean Editorial Staff
September 2, 2007

Today's Topic: When a glitch hits the lottery

Our View

Any game of chance needs a high level of trust.

Trust was missing during a recent stretch in the Tennessee Lottery when players who bet on digits showing up more than once were literally shut out of a chance to win because of a computer glitch. The glitch meant that people who bet on repeating numbers in the Cash 3 and Cash 4 games, such as 3-8-3 or 4-4-7-9, had no chance of winning. Repeated digits are supposed to be able to win.

But when the lottery went several days without a repeat number in the winning combination, some players noticed the problem and tried to alert lottery officials. What they were told, however, was that there was no problem. As it turned out, there was indeed a problem, and the computer-generated combinations did not allow anyone who had bet on repeating numbers to win.

Lottery officials uncovered the problem, which had occurred when an employee from a third-party company working with the lottery typed a "u" for unique instead of an "r" for repeat in the computer code. The lottery is offering double refunds or two free plays to people who were shut out if they return signed tickets.

It is also helpful that the lottery will hire an outside consulting firm to look into what happened. Players need to see such corrective action.

The attorney who heads the lottery's audit group says there should be an investigation into whether fraud had a hand in the game. There is no evidence thus far suggesting anything but human error, but a probe of exactly what happened is in order.

James H. Ripley, the audit chairman, has recommended to lottery director Rebecca Paul Hargrove that there be an investigation into the nature of human and machine errors; the identity of all people who were responsible for the problem; an analysis of whether the problem could have been created deliberately; a written account from Smartplay International, the company that sold the computer system to the lottery, to explain what happened; and an explanation for the delay in detecting or reporting the error.

It is troubling that such a glitch could occur. On one hand, typing the letter "u" instead of an "r" sounds like a small mistake. But the two letters are not side-by-side on the keyboard, and such a misstep certainly resulted in large consequences.

Part of the level of trust in the game before it went to a computerized version was that people could actually see balls with numbers chosen for the winning combinations. They could watch the action for themselves. But they have to trust a computer blindly. The biggest error might have been shifting to a computer system. After all, the computerized method did not prove to be absolutely trustworthy. It is equally troubling that lottery officials seemed to dismiss the complaints of people who had legitimate arguments about what was happening with the games.

The Tennessee Lottery has been an overall success, including the fact it has provided many scholarships for the state's college-bound students. But it is not a success when the game is flawed. Such flaws can lead to doubt and mistrust. If there is no trust, there will be no players, and then there will be no lottery.

Tennessean

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6 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by jarasan.
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LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
Tennessee
United States
Member #7853
October 15, 2004
11338 Posts
Offline
Posted: September 2, 2007, 7:14 am - IP Logged

i wonder if the person who typed the U instead of the R went out placed a bunch of bets???  hmmmmmmmm.......sounds fishy to me.

    MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
    Beautiful Florida
    United States
    Member #5709
    July 18, 2004
    20106 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: September 2, 2007, 9:44 pm - IP Logged

    Players won't participate in a lottery they can't trust

    By Tennessean Editorial Staff
    September 2, 2007

    Today's Topic: When a glitch hits the lottery

    Our View

    Any game of chance needs a high level of trust.

    Trust was missing during a recent stretch in the Tennessee Lottery when players who bet on digits showing up more than once were literally shut out of a chance to win because of a computer glitch. The glitch meant that people who bet on repeating numbers in the Cash 3 and Cash 4 games, such as 3-8-3 or 4-4-7-9, had no chance of winning. Repeated digits are supposed to be able to win.

    But when the lottery went several days without a repeat number in the winning combination, some players noticed the problem and tried to alert lottery officials. What they were told, however, was that there was no problem. As it turned out, there was indeed a problem, and the computer-generated combinations did not allow anyone who had bet on repeating numbers to win.

    Lottery officials uncovered the problem, which had occurred when an employee from a third-party company working with the lottery typed a "u" for unique instead of an "r" for repeat in the computer code. The lottery is offering double refunds or two free plays to people who were shut out if they return signed tickets.

    It is also helpful that the lottery will hire an outside consulting firm to look into what happened. Players need to see such corrective action.

    The attorney who heads the lottery's audit group says there should be an investigation into whether fraud had a hand in the game. There is no evidence thus far suggesting anything but human error, but a probe of exactly what happened is in order.

    James H. Ripley, the audit chairman, has recommended to lottery director Rebecca Paul Hargrove that there be an investigation into the nature of human and machine errors; the identity of all people who were responsible for the problem; an analysis of whether the problem could have been created deliberately; a written account from Smartplay International, the company that sold the computer system to the lottery, to explain what happened; and an explanation for the delay in detecting or reporting the error.

    It is troubling that such a glitch could occur. On one hand, typing the letter "u" instead of an "r" sounds like a small mistake. But the two letters are not side-by-side on the keyboard, and such a misstep certainly resulted in large consequences.

    Part of the level of trust in the game before it went to a computerized version was that people could actually see balls with numbers chosen for the winning combinations. They could watch the action for themselves. But they have to trust a computer blindly. The biggest error might have been shifting to a computer system. After all, the computerized method did not prove to be absolutely trustworthy. It is equally troubling that lottery officials seemed to dismiss the complaints of people who had legitimate arguments about what was happening with the games.

    The Tennessee Lottery has been an overall success, including the fact it has provided many scholarships for the state's college-bound students. But it is not a success when the game is flawed. Such flaws can lead to doubt and mistrust. If there is no trust, there will be no players, and then there will be no lottery.

    Short, sweet and to the point...!

    How can you trust anyone who would'nt give you the right time of day..

    The people and players of Tennesse need to stand up and be counted. Stop playing a no-win situation until they bring back the mechanical draws...!

                                                 

                                                   "  When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty "

      KyMystikal's avatar - 1457224010054
      Florence, Alabama
      United States
      Member #8658
      November 13, 2004
      1993 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: September 2, 2007, 11:01 pm - IP Logged

      I'm glad so many people are speaking up about boycotting  the TN lottery. I felt so alone when Tn announced that they were changing the format of drawing the numbers. As a matter of fact I was counting the days down on the TN  pick 3 posts to when I was going to stop. I wish all players of states with RNG games would boycott their lottery too. If State lottery won't listen to what the people have to say then they will listen to what the people will do.

      I love doubles and remember, it's just a game!!!!!!

        Avatar
        Morristown, TN
        United States
        Member #20593
        August 21, 2005
        355 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: September 3, 2007, 2:40 pm - IP Logged

        It is time to boycott the lottery and have a total house cleaning of officials in the nashville office starting with rebecca hargrove.This lottery is crooked . Only a complete IDIOT would make a decesion to go to a computerized draw , spendiing money on a random number generator instead of putting that money toward scholarships..... sounds real real suspicious to me  

          Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
          Chief Bottle Washer
          New Jersey
          United States
          Member #1
          May 31, 2000
          23259 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: September 3, 2007, 10:42 pm - IP Logged

          It is time to boycott the lottery and have a total house cleaning of officials in the nashville office starting with rebecca hargrove.This lottery is crooked . Only a complete IDIOT would make a decesion to go to a computerized draw , spendiing money on a random number generator instead of putting that money toward scholarships..... sounds real real suspicious to me  

          The vast majority of Tennessee players I've heard from feel exactly like you do. I hope everyone stays engaged on this issue until something substantial is done about it.

           

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

           

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

            jarasan's avatar - new patrick.gif
            Harbinger
            D.C./MD.
            United States
            Member #44103
            July 30, 2006
            5583 Posts
            Online
            Posted: September 3, 2007, 10:53 pm - IP Logged

            The vast majority of Tennessee players I've heard from feel exactly like you do. I hope everyone stays engaged on this issue until something substantial is done about it.

            Next thing you know, they'll be making Jack Daniels with water from China or something insane like that. They'll change the old No. 7 to some RNG number like 78 or 677!

             "Whiskey Rebellion!"