By Todd Northrop
Lottery Post feature: See the actual letter from Senator Kyle
A meeting of the Tennessee Lottery Oversight Committee inched one step closer today, as Speaker of the House James Naifeh, D-Covington, indicated his support for the meeting, according to an advisor for Senator James Kyle, D-Memphis.
Sen. Kyle sent letters Last Friday to the Speakers of the House and Senate, requesting a meeting of the oversight committee "as soon as possible," after the Tennessee Lotteries glitches and mistakes began piling up.
[Editor: For the actual letter sent to the Tennessee House and Senate Speakers, please click the following link (Adobe Acrobat required): http://www.lotterypost.com/media/TLC_Kyle_Request_Oversight.pdf]
Lottery Post spoke today with Mike Krause, Executive Assistant for Policy and Research for Senator Jim Kyle.
"[Speaker] Naifeh is supportive of the meeting, and is going to run with it now," Krause explained.
Naifeh will take the initiative to the House State and Local Government Committee, which together with their Senate counterparts will come to agreement on setting up the Lottery Oversight Committee meeting.
The Chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee is Ulysses Jones, Jr., D-Memphis.
"The Lottery Oversight Committee meets on an as-needed basis," Krause said.
Krause couldn't recall another time the committee met under circumstances like the current environment of errors and glitches.
Convening a meeting of the oversight committee is not an easy task.
The biggest obstacle may be that the Tennessee legislature is currently out of session, not due to return to Nashville until January, 2008.
"Because Tennessee has a part-time Legislature the committee members will need to come together from around the state," Krause said.
Plus, the size of the committee — 18 members — adds another twist. The oversight committee is comprised of nine Senate members and Nine House members.
Getting a committee of that size to convene during the legislative break could only happen if the issue is burning.
And burning this issue is.
Over the past two months, the Tennessee Lottery has experienced a cavalcade of glitches, errors, and mishaps, with the latest happening just yesterday.
In the latest gaffe, a lottery staffer published the wrong Pick 3 and Pick 4 results after the midday drawings. The erroneous results were test draw results, not the real numbers generated by the computerized drawing system.
Once the error was noticed, the real numbers were re-published, but the damage was already done.
The Tennessee Lottery posted a notice to its web site stating that it would pay out on both sets of results for the midday Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings.
Lottery players who match the test drawing results — the first set of numbers published — can't redeem their winning tickets like they would for a regular drawing. They need to mail their tickets to lottery headquarters for the prize.
The string of mishaps began after Tennessee Lottery officials decided to give traditional lottery ball drawings the boot, and purchased a six-figure computer system that generates random numbers inside its memory banks.
Ironically, the problems began with the very first drawing using the new computers. The lottery drawing software was configured using the wrong settings, making it impossible for any duplicate numbers to be drawn for Pick 3 and Pick 4 games.
The glitch represents perhaps the biggest complaint players have about computerized drawings: that errors can remain hidden for long stretches of time.
Errors like the recent Tennessee buggy drawings have happened in other states several times in the past, and like the Tennessee errors, they are typically discovered by lottery players, not by lottery officials.
A computerized drawing glitch with the California Daily Derby game remained hidden for months, until a player calculated the seemingly impossible odds of the odd drawing patterns — just like what happened last month in Tennessee.
[Editor: See full story about the California Daily Derby drawing errors by clicking the following link: http://www.lotterypost.com/news/112810]
The biggest concern of Tennessee lawmakers is the loss of player confidence caused by the continuous stream of errors.
Perhaps the best way to exemplify the urgency felt in the Tennessee government is with Senator Kyle's blunt request for the lottery oversight meeting.
"Now that so many Tennesseans depend on lottery funds for higher education, it would be irresponsible for the legislature to allow any ambiguity or loss of confidence in the lottery process..... I believe recent issues dictate that the legislature be given a full appraisal of the situation and the steps being taken to remedy problems in our lottery system."