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MUSL issues report about computerized drawing failures in Arizona

Apr 11, 2018, 9:45 am

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Arizona LotteryArizona Lottery: MUSL issues report about computerized drawing failures in ArizonaRating:

One machine was broken, the other generated 'apparently valid results'

By Todd Northrop 

The Arizona Lottery released the report last month from the Multi-State Lottery Association's (MUSL) investigation of a computerized drawing malfunction that caused the same winning numbers to be generated in successive drawings.

When lottery drawings are discussed or envisioned by members of the public, one imagines a spinning drum of numbered balls from which the lucky winning numbers are drawn. It's a relatively fail-safe method of picking numbers randomly because even if something goes wrong, it is simple for anyone watching to see the problem and fix it.

However a growing trend for the past couple of decades at United States lotteries is the use of computers to generate simulated random numbers, in an effort to squeeze minor cost savings from the daily drawing process. But as lottery players have seen time and time again, these "computerized drawings" are literally impossible for a human being to witness (because it all happens inside a computer) and errors in the drawing process continue to be present until members of the public notice that something is wrong with the numbers generated.

In October 2017, the Arizona Lottery experienced such an event, when the same numbers were being generated multiple days in a row. (See Arizona Lottery computerized drawing machine generated identical winning numbers, Lottery Post, Oct. 6, 2017.) The lottery was forced to remove the random number generator (RNG) computer and switch to a backup.

A month later, the lottery pulled a second machine due to the same Pick 3 numbers being generated multiple times, and the Arizona Lottery's Executive Director instructed MUSL to investigate the RNG machines in response to what he termed "irregular draw results".

An independent investigation was then conducted on the Arizona Lottery's draw machines that were operated by MUSL. According to the Arizona Lottery, the investigation was conducted by a third-party forensic technology firm and a statistical expert to evaluate historic draw events.

In March, a final 3-page report was released. (The report can be viewed in the Related Links section below.)

The investigation found that the machine initially taken out of service in October, 2017, was physically broken. The RNG computers rely on a physical device that measures the decay of radioactive material in order to create a random "seed value" from which the winning numbers are then generated. That physical device apparently overheated and broke, causing the seed value to always be a zero value.

Compounding the problem was the fact that the computer's program code did not check to be sure a valid seed value was used to generate the winning numbers; it just accepted the value of "zero" every time and proceeded to generate the winning numbers from it. Because the seed value was always zero, the winning numbers generated were always the same.

The second back-up computerized drawing machine taken out of service in November, 2017, was found to be operating properly by the investigation. Although the machine generated the same Pick 3 winning numbers three times within a few weeks, the report deemed it a statistical anomaly, and the repeated numbers were in fact "apparently valid results".

This is not the first problem with computerized drawings in Arizona.  In 2013, the Arizona Lottery discovered there was an issue in the Pick 3 programming code that prevented the numbers eight and nine from being drawn in certain positions. This error resulted in 92.3 percent of tickets purchased having a better chance to win, and caused 7.7 percent to have no chance of winning.

(See COMPUTERIZED DRAWING GLITCH STRIKES ARIZONA LOTTERY, Lottery Post, Aug. 20, 2013.)

Incredibly, that problem persisted to two months before it was found by lottery players who noticed that certain combinations were never being drawn. The lottery had no idea there was a problem with their computerized drawings; if players did not discover the problem, it might have gone on for years before it was discovered.

For many lottery players the drawing errors and subsequent investigation serve as a reminder of their displeasure over state lotteries insisting on using computers to draw the winning numbers.

In a lottery player's eyes, the most important thing a lottery does is to conduct drawings. Why then would state lotteries continue to use computers for this all-important process, when it has been shown in dozens of such incidents in recent years that computerized drawings fail repeatedly, rendering huge swaths of lottery tickets incapable of winning?

When is the last time you saw an investigation of a real lottery ball drawing?

There is one infamous ball drawing that occurred in Pennsylvania in 1980 — nearly 40 years ago — in which lottery personnel rigged a drawing. Lottery insiders who push computerized drawings like to keep resurfacing that incident, because "any type of drawing can be rigged". But that red herring actually illustrates historically just how safe real ball drawings have been, and also how problems with real ball drawings are relatively easy to catch.

The bad actors were caught quickly in that case, as opposed to Eddie Tipton, who rigged computerized drawings across several states for years, robbing lottery players of millions of dollars — and was only caught because he was a poor thief, captured on surveillance footage buying the winning ticket himself.

State lotteries portray themselves as "transparent" with acts such as releasing this investigative report. However, that transparency does not seem to extend to a real, honest discussion of the issues identified over and over with computerized drawings, and a clear explanation of why on Earth certain state lotteries insist on using computers to generate the winning numbers.

Lottery players do not want to keep hearing about "how random" computers can be, because that is not the issue. The issue is all of the other problems: the inability to witness the drawings; the fact that programming errors will never be completely eliminated from the process, ensuring repeated problems in the future; the fact that computerized drawings can never be secured from tampering the way that real ball drawings can; the fact that computerized drawings can never be audited the way that real ball drawings can.

The ironic thing about the Arizona Lottery drawing fiasco last year is that when they were forced to pull the second computerized drawing machine, how did they quickly fix the problem and ensure the drawing problems were eliminated? By re-instituting their real ball drawing machines.

Sadly, on Dec. 11, 2017, the Arizona Lottery installed new computerized drawing machines and put the real ball machines back into storage.

The Arizona Lottery issued a statement that it is committed to protecting its players, the integrity of the Lottery and transparency to the residents of Arizona. We hope that commitment of transparency and integrity includes an explanation of their insistence on using computers to generate the winning numbers, as well as an indication of exactly how many such incidents will occur before they switch back to real ball drawings for good.

Lottery Post Staff

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12 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by Hermanus104.
Page 1 of 1
Avatar
Chasing $ Millions.
White Shores- California
United States
Member #136473
December 12, 2012
6314 Posts
Offline

Cannot wait to read " it was human error" .....once again.

 * Voice of Reason *   

 

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

    CDanaT's avatar - Nolz june15.jpg
    Central TN
    United States
    Member #121189
    January 4, 2012
    4748 Posts
    Offline

    Gotta say...Not a supporter of computerized draws at all....Good luck Arizonians

    Integrity: There is just no substitute.

      hearsetrax's avatar - alien on_computer.jpg

      United States
      Member #52343
      May 21, 2007
      3286 Posts
      Offline

      time to break out some garlic popcorn and some green tea  Lurking

      Thinking of...

        Avatar
        Simpsonville
        United States
        Member #163184
        January 22, 2015
        2261 Posts
        Offline

        Need to send Chip from KY lottery down there STAT.

         

        RNG for a pick 3; they get what the deserve with that.

         

        Todd has been warning folks about the downfalls of RNG for years.  MUSL has some serious damage control to contain especially after the Tipton ordeal. 

          KY Floyd's avatar - lysol avatar.jpg
          NY
          United States
          Member #23834
          October 16, 2005
          4262 Posts
          Offline

          "the same Pick 3 winning numbers three times within a few weeks, the report deemed it a statistical anomaly, and the repeated numbers were in fact "apparently valid results".

          Based on the results listed on LP, a "few" weeks is six weeks, with no drawings on Sundays. The odds of a specific number coming up 3 times in a specific 6 week period are very small, but probably not an anomaly considering lottery odds in general. The odds of some number repeating 3 times in a specific 6 week period, OTOH, are much greater, and it becomes even more likely when you consider that it could happen in any 6 week period.

          In this instance, 804 was drawn on 10/9/17, 11/15, and 11/21. The chance that there will be a repeat during the 33 draws from 10/9 to 11/15 is 41.4% or 1 in 2.415. The chances of that repeated number being drawn again during the next 5 draws is .499% or 1 in 200. Multiply them together and the odds of what happened happening are 1 in (2.415 * 200) or 1 in 483.

          That makes the chance of this statistical "anomaly" happening more than twice as likely as the perfectly normal and expected result of any particular pick 3 drawing where the chances of getting that result are 1 in 1000.

          I hope the only reason they even bothered spending more than 5 minutes looking into it was because they were gun shy because of the problem with the other machine.

            MillionsWanted's avatar - 24Qa6LT

            Norway
            Member #9517
            December 10, 2004
            1735 Posts
            Offline

            RNG Random my bottom! Cussing Face

              grwurston's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
              Win Today.
              bel air maryland
              United States
              Member #90247
              April 24, 2010
              9430 Posts
              Offline

              Lottery officials just don't get it.  Computer drawings stink.

               

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

              "You can observe a lot just by watching." Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame baseball player.

              The numbers will tell you what numbers to play. Pay attention to the numbers.

                wizeguy's avatar - animaniacs04

                United States
                Member #15143
                May 10, 2005
                454 Posts
                Offline

                If my state implements RNG my entertainment dollars get spent elsewhere.

                  Avatar
                  Bellingham, WA
                  United States
                  Member #86466
                  February 4, 2010
                  44 Posts
                  Offline

                  The state of AZ, as well as all other states, who use the RNG's will never use the balls for drawings ever again! This is one of the biggest white collar crimes ever and it needs to stop! There needs to be a class action law suite filed to change this and make those who run it healed accountable! Until this happens, I for one will never buy anymore tickets...

                    Avatar
                    Bellingham, WA
                    United States
                    Member #86466
                    February 4, 2010
                    44 Posts
                    Offline

                    This should be a wake up call to all who play Washington State games! Those people are ripping off players like crazy by playing RNG's!

                      Hermanus104's avatar - 5027340606 1e360c8038_s.jpg
                      Bearflag Republic, Los Angeles Division
                      United States
                      Member #83347
                      December 5, 2009
                      1425 Posts
                      Offline

                      I live in California and will not play their lottery because they use random number generators. 

                      I play only when I visit my family in Virginia, a ball state.

                      Today's winning 3-ball is going to be a number between 000 and 999.

                      In a lot of states, lotteries benefit education. That makes the REAL winners the only people who can't play!

                        Hermanus104's avatar - 5027340606 1e360c8038_s.jpg
                        Bearflag Republic, Los Angeles Division
                        United States
                        Member #83347
                        December 5, 2009
                        1425 Posts
                        Offline

                        "the same Pick 3 winning numbers three times within a few weeks, the report deemed it a statistical anomaly, and the repeated numbers were in fact "apparently valid results".

                        Based on the results listed on LP, a "few" weeks is six weeks, with no drawings on Sundays. The odds of a specific number coming up 3 times in a specific 6 week period are very small, but probably not an anomaly considering lottery odds in general. The odds of some number repeating 3 times in a specific 6 week period, OTOH, are much greater, and it becomes even more likely when you consider that it could happen in any 6 week period.

                        In this instance, 804 was drawn on 10/9/17, 11/15, and 11/21. The chance that there will be a repeat during the 33 draws from 10/9 to 11/15 is 41.4% or 1 in 2.415. The chances of that repeated number being drawn again during the next 5 draws is .499% or 1 in 200. Multiply them together and the odds of what happened happening are 1 in (2.415 * 200) or 1 in 483.

                        That makes the chance of this statistical "anomaly" happening more than twice as likely as the perfectly normal and expected result of any particular pick 3 drawing where the chances of getting that result are 1 in 1000.

                        I hope the only reason they even bothered spending more than 5 minutes looking into it was because they were gun shy because of the problem with the other machine.

                        There are anomalies like this in ball states. But, in ball states, they are just that: anomalies. 

                        Virginia, a ball state, did this: 

                        Mon, Mar 30, 2015VirginiaPick 3 Day8-0-5
                        Thu, Mar 26, 2015VirginiaPick 3 Day8-0-5
                        Tue, Mar 24, 2015VirginiaPick 3 Day8-0-5


                        Texas, which takes its ball drawings very seriously, even posting its predraw results online, did this:

                        Mon, Jul 27, 2009TexasPick 3 Night2-7-7, Sum It Up: 16
                        Fri, Jul 24, 2009TexasPick 3 Night2-7-7, Sum It Up: 16
                        Thu, Jul 23, 2009TexasPick 3 Night2-7-7, Sum It Up: 16

                        Kentucky did this:

                        Wed, Sep 26, 2007KentuckyPick 3 Evening4-8-4
                        Tue, Sep 25, 2007KentuckyPick 3 Midday4-8-4
                        Mon, Sep 24, 2007KentuckyPick 3 Midday4-8-4

                        I am not sure what device the Kansas Lottery was using in December 2005, but this happened: 509 on three consecutive nights.

                        Sun, Dec 18, 2005KansasPick 3 Evening5-0-9
                        Sat, Dec 17, 2005KansasPick 3 Evening5-0-9
                        Fri, Dec 16, 2005KansasPick 3 Evening5-0-9

                        Today's winning 3-ball is going to be a number between 000 and 999.

                        In a lot of states, lotteries benefit education. That makes the REAL winners the only people who can't play!