Tennessee Lottery chief Rebecca Hargrove said Monday there's no sign that players have lost confidence despite a daily drawings computer glitch.
A July switch to computerized drawings had incorrectly prevented repeat numbers in the drawings until a programming error was fixed in August. The error meant that no winning draw included duplicate numerals, so any ticket holder who had bet on a number like 2-2-1 or 7-7-7-7 wasn't going to win.
But quarterly sales for Cash 3 tickets sales rose 5 percent compared with the same year-ago quarter, while Cash 4 sales were up 2 percent, Hargrove said.
"I'm struggling with the suggestion that we've lost faith with our players," she said.
Hargrove said resuming manual drawings with numbered balls could cost more than $5 million per year, and would run contrary to the national trend toward computerization.
[Editor: This editor simply cannot let Mrs. Hargrove's statement go unchecked. The last state to go computerized was Wisconsin — in 2004. (See here and here for details.) If she calls that a trend, I hope she does not plan on becoming a statistician any time soon.]
Players complained about the lack of repeat numbers soon after the computer change, but Hargrove said that didn't raise an alarm because of previous two-week stints without repeat numbers.
[Editor: Actually, the Tennessee Pick 3 game went over two weeks without doubles only one time in the history of the game — from Aug. 5, 2005 to Aug. 22, 2005 — but that was when there was no Pick 3 midday drawings, so it was half the number of drawings as it would have been today. Plus, the drawing system was brand new, which would reasonably lead to at least a quick look-see. Mrs. Hargrove also did not address her staff's e-mails to inquiring players, which specified that the lottery tested the drawing system , and it produced doubles.]
The faulty daily drawings were followed by another lottery problem last month, when some lottery tickets showed an incorrect Powerball jackpot. Hargrove defended the lottery's performance.
"We've done over 75,000 drawings, we've done over $1 million a day in financial transactions," said Hargrove. "We have a huge operation and we've done that very, very well until recently, when we experienced our first serious operational problem."
The lottery paid SmartPlay International Inc. $221,300 to set up two number-picking computers. An internal lottery audit found that SmartPlay had made a programming error, and that another company hired to double-check the system, Gaming Laboratories Inc., had failed to spot the mistake.
Lottery officials said they found no evidence of fraud. They checked the names of all people involved in designing or checking the new system against a winners database and found no matches.
The lottery has hired another outside auditor, KPMG, to examine whether the computerized drawing system is now sound. Another audit by the state comptroller's office will look more closely at any potential fraudulent activity.
James H. Ripley, a Sevierville attorney who heads the 3-year-old lottery's audit committee, asked other members whether they wanted to consider recommending that KPMG also look into questions of fraud.
"It seems to me we've got our belt on, so the question is whether we need a pair of suspenders to go along with that," he said.
The committee deferred a decision on further fraud audits until later.