Arizona Lottery computerized drawing machine generated identical winning numbers

Oct 6, 2017, 12:21 pm (58 comments)

Arizona Lottery

Machine taken out of service; no explanation offered

Once again computerized lottery drawings are coming under scrutiny as a machine responsible for generating random numbers has done the opposite, generating exact duplicates.

The Arizona Lottery is offering losing ticket refunds or exchanges from four games held over a recent six-day period because a machine used for the drawings generated the same winning numbers in consecutive games.

The games affected are Fantasy 5, Pick 3, All or Nothing, and 5 Card Cash, played from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3, Arizona Lottery officials said.

The Arizona Lottery uses three machines called Random Number Generators, or RNGs, to generate the winning numbers for the games, said Nikki O'Shea, state lottery spokeswoman.

The machines are stand-alone units that are not connected to a network or online system, she said. Two of the machines are managed by Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), which works with Arizona's lottery. The third, which is in Phoenix, is used as a backup, O'Shea said.

MUSL randomly selects which machines will be used for a game's number draw. The machine that caused the problem was selected for the morning draw Sept. 28 and Sept. 30, and evening draw Sept. 29 and Oct. 3, O'Shea said.

The machine, which lottery officials referred to as RNG2, produced the numbers for one game and then generated the exact same numbers in a subsequent game. This happened several times with different games.

For example, in a Fantasy 5 game Sept. 29, the numbers drawn were 1, 4, 8, 12, and 28. The same numbers were generated by the machine when it was used again in the game on Oct. 3.

Duplicate numbers were generated in All or Nothing on Sept. 28 and Sept. 30, and on Sept. 29 and Oct. 3. Pick 3 duplicates were generated Sept. 29 and Oct. 3. 5 Card Cash also was affected during the time period, officials said.

O'Shea said the matter still was being investigated, but the machine has been taken out of use and the other two machines will be used going forward. Additional draw audits also have been added before winning numbers are certified, she said.

Powerball, Mega Millions and The Pick were not affected. (Powerball and Mega Millions are not drawn by the Arizona Lottery.)

"The integrity of our games is paramount to Arizona Lottery.  We have incredible players at Arizona Lottery and we appreciate their patience and support," she said.

Winning tickets that bear the duplicate numbers are being honored. But players who hung on to their losing tickets for the four games affected from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3 can exchange their ticket for a new one or get a refund by mail or in person at one of three Arizona Lottery locations:

  • Phoenix office: 4740 E. University Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85034; Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Tucson office: 2900 E. Broadway Blvd., Suite 190, Tucson, AZ 85716; Monday-Friday, 8 a.m-5 p.m.
  • Sky Harbor Airport: Terminal 4 baggage claim area.

Players can contact the Arizona Lottery by phone at 480-921-4400.

One more failure to add to the heap of computerized drawing disasters

No official explanation has been offered thus far for the computerized drawing failure.

State lotteries have been emphatically stating for years that computerized drawings both save money for the state as well as provide an entirely secure, reliable way to draw lottery numbers.

But the volume of evidence to the contrary is staggering.

Lottery Post has documented case after case of computerized drawing failures of every type, including outright rigging.

In fact, just four years ago the very same state lottery — the Arizona Lottery — suffered a monumental computerized drawing failure that went undiscovered for two months, rendering almost 8% of all Pick 3 tickets sold during that span incapable of winning.


Other computerized drawing states have had the exact type of failure as Arizona, drawing the same numbers multiple times in a row. (See Computerized lottery drawing glitch picks same numbers for 3 days, Lottery Post, Dec. 23, 2005.)

In Delaware, such a glitch prompted players to cash in on the situation — regular lottery players detected the malfunction sooner than the lottery awoke to the realization that its drawings were flawed.  (See Keno players cash in on lottery glitch in Delaware, Lottery Post, Dec. 24, 2015.)

In the past computerized drawing states have been begged by their players to switch back to real, traditional lottery ball drawings, but to little avail.  One bright exception is the Hoosier Lottery in Indiana, which responded to its players' requests by switching back to real ball drawings, and returned to televising lottery drawings.  The decision was a brave one, given that in the years prior, the Hoosier Lottery made contradictory statements that computerized drawings were better than real ball drawings.

What do state lotteries get out of computerized drawings to make them cling to the failure-prone technology?  Based on the state lotteries' silence on the issue one can only guess.

Perhaps it is a little bit cheaper for the lottery to get rid of televised drawings, but then again with the latest technology in robotic camera work and cheap production through online streaming, this argument no longer holds water.

Or perhaps the state lotteries have lost their passion for creative marketing, and can no longer see real drawings for what they are:  an opportunity to hold a mini event every day — a chance to entertain, inspire confidence, and bring more dollars into the state.

When will they start listening?

Lottery Post Staff


JADELottery's avatarJADELottery

OO-OO, it's bo'kin.

Raven62's avatarRaven62

Was it a Design Failure? or Normal Operation?


Quote: Originally posted by Raven62 on Oct 6, 2017

Was it a Design Failure? or Normal Operation?

At this point : The RNG games need to head into the abyss. Consider this, if Tipton had not been apprehended- for him & his ilk, it would continue to be as the Boss would sing " Glory Days."

Bench that B*#!ch for good.Angry

Tatototman65's avatarTatototman65

I refuse to support RNG games.



PA Treasure Hunt (5/30 game: 1 in 142,506) had duplicate numbers drawn too within a week of each other. 02 05 08 11 12 on both Monday Nov-24-2014 and Sunday Nov-30-2014. Always thought it was just chance, but, after reading this article, not so sure. The first occurrence was on a Monday and then the duplicate on the following Sunday. Could PA Lottery swapped out the machines and/or did maintenance that reset some parameters. Definitely wondering now.

Winning Numbers: 02  05  08  11  12
1 players matched 5, each receiving $10,114.50
86 players matched 4, each receiving $100.00
1,419 players matched 3, each receiving $6.00
9,483 players matched 2, each receiving $1.00

Winning Numbers: 02  05  08  11  12
5 players matched 5, each receiving $2,046.00
75 players matched 4, each receiving $100.00
1,474 players matched 3, each receiving $6.00
9,633 players matched 2, each receiving $1.00

As for lottery strategies, interesting to see that some players will play previous drawn numbers even for jackpot games. Most of the time doesn't work, but here it did. And I suppose, if one analyzed PA Treasure Hunt for 4 out 5 duplicates, the strategy, assuming the machines were somehow faulty over time, may be more effective than chance would suggest.

What I can't understand is how so many lotteries mess up use of RNG for even simple draw games, such as Pick-3 and Pick-4. Is lottery RNG software and implementation really that bad. If so, all the more reason for more lotteries to bring ball draws back.


Time to dump RNG once and for all!

Artist77's avatarArtist77

I don't think it was a glitch. I read an article on algorithms a few weeks ago and learned that they repeat at some point.  But the time frame could be any amount of time.

grwurston's avatargrwurston

I don't get it.  Why is this a problem?  Don't all the lotteries constantly tell us that, "all the drawings are completely random?"

If this was to happen in a ball drawing nothing would be said. Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings repeat all the time back to back or within a few days. It's just random, right?

If they were completely random, then why do they think there is a problem? 

Let it go. It is what it is, right?  Sometimes these things happen.  It's called a RANDOM number generator. But if the lottery doesn't like the results, now it isn't random?

If this had happened during a mechanical ball drawing pre-test they would have pulled the ball sets or machines. Why? Isn't everything random?

Oh yeah I forgot, the only reason it's a problem is because this doesn't fit their "normal statistical parameters."  Ie, pure random is verboten.

Todd's avatarTodd

Quote: Originally posted by Artist77 on Oct 6, 2017

I don't think it was a glitch. I read an article on algorithms a few weeks ago and learned that they repeat at some point.  But the time frame could be any amount of time.

Having all the games repeat the same drawing numbers on consecutive nights is not random numbers that just happen to repeat.  The odds are so removed that it is literally impossible.

Coin Toss's avatarCoin Toss

Is Tipton in Arizona?


Artist77's avatarArtist77

Quote: Originally posted by Todd on Oct 6, 2017

Having all the games repeat the same drawing numbers on consecutive nights is not random numbers that just happen to repeat.  The odds are so removed that it is literally impossible.

They might be using a simpler algorithm, perhaps? It was the same computer each time. Remember the hot lotto guy was able to tell ahead of time, from a few sets of numbers to play, what would hit on a certain day. I am determined to figure out one of these RNG algorithms before they all go away. There are no truly random numbers in an algorithm since they usually have to have a seed number to start. I guess the closest thing to randomness might be the mechanical drawings.

Artist77's avatarArtist77

Quote: Originally posted by Coin Toss on Oct 6, 2017

Is Tipton in Arizona?


Lol I thought the same thing. I think someone was "experimenting" with the RNG and messed up.


The easy way to get states to stop using RNGs is to boycott the games.  If people simply stopped playing those games, the loss of revenue would cause the states to go back to using balls.  As long as states keep recording record sales, they have no incentive to change operations. 

I also wonder if this problem exists with second chance drawings since those are computerized.  Florida has been doing second chance drawings for losing scratch-off tickets for a few years now.  About a year ago, one person won two $1,000 prizes out of 15 total for a second chance drawing.  When I contacted the FL Lotto office, they told me there were over 5 million entries into that second chance drawing.   They said they kept no record of how many entries any individual had in the drawing.  The odds of a person getting two wins must have been nearly impossible unless the algorithm that does the selection is flawed (or fixed).

Todd's avatarTodd

Quote: Originally posted by Coin Toss on Oct 6, 2017

Is Tipton in Arizona?


Well, the machine in question is a MUSL machine, so that is an entirely fair question.  MUSL claims that all the machines Tipton worked on were taken out of service, but that's the problem with computerized drawings — who really knows what the hell they are doing behind the scenes?  There is no way to "witness" a computerized drawing, so there is absolutely no way in this universe you or I could say with certainly that's it's all on the up and up. 

With computerized drawings lottery players are going 100% on faith that it is fair.  There is no way to know for sure.  And THAT is why I have written time and time again, arguing that computerized drawings should be eliminated from all state lottery daily drawing games.

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