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Tenn. Lottery CEO claims sales unhurt by numerous errors

Tennessee LotteryTennessee Lottery: Tenn. Lottery CEO claims sales unhurt by numerous errors
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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.

AP

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6 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by tntea.
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tnlotto1's avatar - logo
nashville
United States
Member #49896
February 18, 2007
1181 Posts
Offline
Posted: October 29, 2007, 11:25 pm - IP Logged

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.

"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."

that is not evidence that no one cheated to profit just because the winners didnt have the same names or same last names as the people involved. they could have had friends claim jackpots or a relative with a different last name.

    four4me's avatar - gate1
    MD
    United States
    Member #1701
    June 18, 2003
    8359 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: October 30, 2007, 1:57 am - IP Logged

     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.

    A small price to pay to improve player confidence. A huge investment in the face of the players whom would rather have ball drawings. A lot less ridicule for having switched from ball drawings to computer drawings. Restore faith in the players that real ball drawings have for ever been the standard way to draw the numbers.

    Sales might double or triple over time if they switched back to real live mechanical drawing. It would make her look like a hero in the players eyes. She might get to keep her job.

    I don't know the actual cost of the equipment and the players could care less. Tennessee should have a huge profit margin to take care of any expenditures concerning the running of the lottery after all they players are paying for the equipment and their salaries. It's not like it's coming out of her pocket. The company that manufactures the equipment more than likely services their equipment and provides the necessary equipment for dealing with the ball handling. Outside of purchasing ball sets when they are in need of replacement the rest of the equipment should have a long run time duration. There is no other excuse for that ridiculous amount of money to run the drawings.  

    Apparently she doesn't read anything about Tennessee lottery on Lottery Post because she just doesn't get the picture the players don't want computers to draw the numbers.  We don't trust computer drawings. Maybe whats needed here is for someone to file a petition against computers drawing numbers. And forward it to her. Oh thats right we have a petition here on Lottery Post.

    Rebecca if you are reading this do yourself and the Tennessee lottery a big favor get rid of the computers and bring back the mechanical ball drawings.

    Oh and before i forget where is the digit 4 in the midday drawing apparently it has gone south for the winter.

      Avatar
      Kentucky
      United States
      Member #32652
      February 14, 2006
      7295 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: October 30, 2007, 7:05 am - IP Logged

      "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."

      that is not evidence that no one cheated to profit just because the winners didnt have the same names or same last names as the people involved. they could have had friends claim jackpots or a relative with a different last name.

      The only time I was ever required to sign the back of a ticket and show ID was when I hit the Pick-4 straight and 5 out of 6 in the Lotto and that was because the payoff was over $600. If somebody actually knew which number was going to be drawn in advance, it wouldn't be very difficult cashing one or two $500 tickets at multiple stores without ever signing their name or showing ID. This type of investigation proves nothing.

      Experienced state lotteries officials know that certain Pick-3 number combinations are played more than others and expect to see higher payouts when they are drawn. But they would raise an eyebrow if a historically low payout combination was drawn and an extraordinary amount of money was wagered on it.

      If it is true (and I seriously doubt it) that the cost of having live ball drawings is $5 million a year, they could easily justify the change to a computer draw by controlling outcomes and the payouts and call it "a programming error" if they were caught. There was fraud by the Tennessee Lottery Commission when it replied to emails complaining about the lack of double digits being drawn by saying the system was tested and doubles were drawn when the facts show that was impossible.

      Hopefully that question will be asked when the state legislators hold their hearings.

        Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
        Chief Bottle Washer
        New Jersey
        United States
        Member #1
        May 31, 2000
        23259 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: October 30, 2007, 7:48 am - IP Logged

        The only time I was ever required to sign the back of a ticket and show ID was when I hit the Pick-4 straight and 5 out of 6 in the Lotto and that was because the payoff was over $600. If somebody actually knew which number was going to be drawn in advance, it wouldn't be very difficult cashing one or two $500 tickets at multiple stores without ever signing their name or showing ID. This type of investigation proves nothing.

        Experienced state lotteries officials know that certain Pick-3 number combinations are played more than others and expect to see higher payouts when they are drawn. But they would raise an eyebrow if a historically low payout combination was drawn and an extraordinary amount of money was wagered on it.

        If it is true (and I seriously doubt it) that the cost of having live ball drawings is $5 million a year, they could easily justify the change to a computer draw by controlling outcomes and the payouts and call it "a programming error" if they were caught. There was fraud by the Tennessee Lottery Commission when it replied to emails complaining about the lack of double digits being drawn by saying the system was tested and doubles were drawn when the facts show that was impossible.

        Hopefully that question will be asked when the state legislators hold their hearings.

        Exactly right. 

        For someone who claims to know so much about the lottery, Mrs. Hargrove has some very convenient moments when she seems to be ignorant of basic things like claiming prizes. 

         

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

         

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

          konane's avatar - wallace
          Atlanta, GA
          United States
          Member #1265
          March 13, 2003
          3333 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: October 30, 2007, 12:32 pm - IP Logged

          Becca's in overdrive defending that itsy bitsy "glitch" which biased results in favor of the company she's running (in the ground) ..... and pays her bonu$$$$$$$.    

          Tell a lie long enough and it becomes the truth seems to be the strategy, but 'fessing up to making a mistake then immediately reverting to ball draws would have improved rather than harmed her image. 

          Now she looks like a table full of wind up teeth going at it like the battery bunny.

          Good luck to everyone!

            tntea's avatar - Lottery-059.jpg

            United States
            Member #5344
            June 30, 2004
            23641 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: October 30, 2007, 8:23 pm - IP Logged

            BuLL

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