By Todd Northrop
Canada's British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) in order to expand and improve its ability to conduct computerized lottery drawings.
While the lottery may view a new computerized drawing system as a step-up for the organization, lottery players may feel differently. In the United States, computerized drawings are the basis for the biggest scandal to ever rock the lottery industry.
According to the RFI, the British Columbia Lottery currently utilizes six independent computerized drawing machines, each a different model of machine. This arrangement hinders scalability as well as automation.
A new computerized drawing system will address all the needs of the organization, including lottery, casino, and e-gaming.
The RFI was issued Tuesday, and responses must be received by the lottery by May 24.
Among the five Canadian lotteries, the British Columbia and Western Canada lotteries conduct all drawings with computers, while the Atlantic Canada, Ontario, and Québec lotteries conduct most drawings using traditional lottery ball machines. The nation-wide Lotto 6/49 and Lotto Max drawings are both conducted with traditional lottery ball machines.
On the Lottery Post forums — the largest and most popular discussion forums for lottery players worldwide — lottery players overwhelmingly prefer traditional lottery ball machine drawings because the actual drawing process can be witnessed easily by any layman, minimizing the potential for fraud.
On the other hand, computerized drawings are by their very nature impossible to witness, since the entire drawing process takes place inside a computer.
In 2010, Eddie Tipton, the former security chief for the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), rigged a computerized drawing system using code that would delete itself after it fixed the numbers, making detection nearly impossible. It was only due to his poor abilities as a thief that Tipton's ruse was discovered.
The investigation into Tipton's fraud continues to this day, with investigators unearthing several other rigged drawings, as well as arrests of two alleged accomplices.
This was precisely the scenario that Todd Northrop, Founder of Lottery Post, envisioned and wrote about in 2004 in his Petition for True Lottery Drawings.
In the petition, Northrop wrote, "Hackers can produce code that goes undetected for long periods of time, and causes unseen problems. Why do the state lotteries think that they are immune from hacking, when some of the most secure computers in the world have been hacked into? Worse, a state employee "on the take" could insert malicious computer code into the drawing process that could specify the exact numbers that are drawn. A crafty programmer could keep this secret for a long time."
Lottery Post's State Lottery Report Card ranks all government lotteries in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Germany by the percent of lottery games drawn using traditional lottery ball machines, and itemizes each game according to its drawing method.
Full Text of the British Columbia Lottery's Lottery Draw Machine Replacement RFI
British Columbia Lottery Corporation ("BCLC") is the Crown Corporation which conducts and manages commercial gaming in British Columbia in accordance with the Gaming Control Act (BC) and the Criminal Code. B.C. Lottotech International Inc. ("BCLII") is a wholly owned subsidiary of BCLC. If this Request for Information (the "RFI") is issued by BCLII, references to BCLC throughout are deemed to be references to BCLII.
The purpose of this RFI is to receive information from industry leading companies that can assist in supporting BCLC's Lottery Draw Machine Replacement (LDMR) project. The information received through the RFI may be utilized to create requirements for a subsequent Request for Proposal (RFP).
For clarity, there is no intention to qualify proponents or create any commitment on behalf of BCLC to any contract, or future business opportunity or process through this RFI.
1.1 BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
In order to support BCLC's ability to deliver current and future gaming products to the market, in a cost efficient and timely manner, and to assist BCLC in making decisions on future requirements for the Lottery Draw Machine Replacement project, BCLC plans to gather market intelligence through an RFI solicitation.
The objective of the RFI is to gain market intelligence and identify potential suppliers whose competencies align with BCLC's vision of conducting draws with integrity, reliability, and security.
BCLC currently conducts lottery draws using legacy systems and hardware that includes six (6) different models of Lottery Draw Machines, which are all separate systems, hindering scalability.
BCLC is looking to modernize its Automated Draw Systems (ADSs) to be an enterprise solution for all of BCLC's lines of business (Lottery, Casino, and E-Gaming). This new solution will have multitude of goals, including the ability to:
- Add or remove games
- Remove the need for manual process and interactions
- Increase the level of business continuity / availability
- Improve real-time monitoring and alerting
BCLC will also accept responses for stand-alone Random Number Generator (RNG) solutions or appliances.