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Oregon Lottery glitch in July made all Keno tickets losers

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Oregon LotteryOregon Lottery: Oregon Lottery glitch in July made all Keno tickets losers
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The Oregon Lottery has built up a $1.2 billion a year business trafficking in the eternal thrill of gambling. Just one of its games, Keno, was played an extraordinary 73.7 million times last year.

But the Keno odds took a sudden swing in the early morning hours of July 23, when scanners read all Keno tickets as losers, even when they weren't.

The Lottery never widely disclosed the technical glitch that gave players zero chance of winning. The agency confirmed the defect lasted nearly six hours — from about 3 a.m. July 23 to 8:45 a.m. — causing 172 winning Keno tickets to get false readings from scanners. Players left about $1,400 in Keno winnings unclaimed from that day, according to the Lottery, presumably because they were misled by the lottery's equipment.

In the context of Oregon's Keno game, which takes in $103 million a year, $1,400 is barely a rounding error. Nevertheless, the outage raises a question that has rarely, if ever, come up in the agency's 34-year history: Can players trust the Oregon Lottery?

Technical glitches like the one that took down the Keno scanners on July 23 are exceedingly rare, Lottery officials say. A regularly scheduled software maintenance and update led to a corrupted file that rendered the Lottery's point-of-sale bar code readers temporarily misleading customers.

But the agency was unable to provide a definitive accounting on the number of comparable glitches it has experienced. The agency didn't shut down Keno during the outage, allowing additional unsuspecting players to throw their money away.

Farshad Allahdadi, the Lottery's director of gaming, said the agency and its technical contractors worked quickly to diagnose and repair the problem. Fairness and integrity are the agency's "life's blood," he said. "But we also operate computer-run games and they can sometimes crash."

Reimbursing the affected players has proved impossible because the agency can't locate them. It was able to identify the 99 sites where players got false negatives and gave free Keno tickets to those retailers.  "We're doing the best we can," Allahdadi said. "But given that it's an anonymous, cash-based game, it's proven difficult."

Keno prizes can be collected up to a year after the game is played. Allahdadi recommends that anyone who lost on July 23 should rescan their ticket now.

Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, was surprised Lottery officials didn't just shut down the game. "That's the least they could have done," she said. "What you can't have is a situation where the Lottery is taking money out of the pockets of vulnerable Oregonians when they have no chance of winning."

Sojourn at the Mad Dog

The system crash might never have been disclosed but for Scott Graf, the owner of a diesel engine repair shop in Toledo and an enthusiastic Keno player. After work on July 22, Graf adjourned to his usual booth at the Mad Dog Tavern near Newport and watched the sun set on Yaquina Bay. His good day got better when he bought a couple Keno tickets and one came up a $1,120 winner.

Keno is a simple matching game. Players buy cards imprinted with the numbers 1 through 80. In each game, staged every four minutes, 20 of the 80 numbers are randomly selected by the Lottery's computer system. Players' winnings depend on how many of those numbers match up with their cards.

It is the third-most popular game offered by the Lottery, behind video poker and scratch-its, generating $64 million in prizes in 2017. The agency says the malfunction did not affect any other games, including video poker.

Graf is an old hand at Keno, and $1,120 a big win. So, the next morning, he went to a local grocery store to again run his Keno tickets through a Lottery scanner. The machine said all seven of his tickets were losers.

Wait, what? Graf knew he hadn't imagined the events of the night before. He returned home and checked the Lottery website. Sure enough, he saw that his ticket was a winner. In fact, two of his other Keno tickets were good for $12 and $20.

He called Lottery officials demanding answers. Graf was livid at their response and remained so even after agency officials agreed to pay his winnings.

 "If I had not checked the tickets in my pocket the night before but only in the morning as I normally do I would have thrown away $1,152.00 and neither you nor I would have never known," he wrote in a July 30 email to the Oregon Lottery. "I do not believe, nor do I think you can prove this is a one-time occurrence or that you can be confident that this will not happen again."

Graf is the sole Keno player to file a complaint over the outage, Lottery officials said.

Precisely, Graf said, "because the other victims don't know they're victims."

Graf is skeptical of the Lottery's findings about the $1,400 in unpaid winnings. That seems low for 172 tickets, he said.

"One guy in little old Newport wins just about the same amount of money as the other 172?" Graf said, "I don't believe that for a minute."

Key source of state funds

In its 34 years of operation, the Lottery has become a vital source of revenue for the state, exceeded only by property taxes. In 2017, it transferred $695.8 million to Oregon's Economic Development Fund; the money funds economic development, schools and state parks.

The Lottery has periodically generated some negative headlines for its reliance on so-called mini-casinos. Among its more than 3,900 participating retailers and restaurants, critics charge that a handful exist only to sell lottery games, which violates lottery rules.

Earlier this year, the agency drew fire for implementing technology upgrades in its video poker machines that reduced the so-called "progressive jackpot" to the minimum level. Some gambling experts argued that was cheating players.

But by and large, the Lottery has avoided bad press. With a big help from its principal technology contractor — International Gaming Technology — the games have worked, and sales have steadily grown. The Lottery paid $165 million to International Gaming Technology over the last five years — $29 million in fiscal 2017 alone.

The state quickly brought in IGT technicians on July 23 when they realized they had a problem.  In the clipped, acronym-filled language of the IT professional, IGT's Justin Bruntmyer summed up the situation in a 3:46 am email:

"At day-end ORESTE1 (primary system) had multiple products crash. Those products were mega millions, keno, win for life, validation, and MXSRV. IGT brought the systems back online and found that keno showed failed for the liab_update_and_purge process. This caused multiple processes to fail. Games are back online, however the processing has been affected."

Like most Lottery games, Keno shuts down overnight from 2:30 to 5 a.m. Apparently, the thought of keeping Keno offline at 5 a.m. was never seriously considered. The game went live as scheduled and the scanners started spewing bad information to Graf and others.

By 7:45 a.m., IGT found a stopgap solution: instead of giving players false negatives, the scanners notified them to try again later. An hour later, they had fixed the problem and Keno was back to normal.

In other jurisdictions technology failures have had serious consequences.

In England last month, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, an independent agency that oversees the gaming industry, issued a 1.3 million pound fine against Camelot UK, the private firm that operates the national lottery. Among other things, the commission found that Camelot had authorized the use of a glitchy mobile app that told players their winning ticket was a loser.

There is no equivalent gambling commission in Oregon. The Lottery reports to a volunteer board appointed by the governor. The Oregon Lottery Commission is chaired by Mardilyn Saathhof, a lawyer for Northwest Natural Gas.

Lottery staffers informed commission members and Gov. Kate Brown's office of the July 23 outage. No one at the agency or at IGT has been sanctioned.

Jack Roberts, former director of the Lottery, said he was generally impressed with the quality of the staff when he ran the agency. He said he never encountered an outage like that of July 23 when he was there. "The most important thing to the lottery is its integrity," he said. "We know that the odds are in favor of the house. But people need to have confidence that the game is fair, and that if they win they're going to get paid."

Oregonian

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8 comments. Last comment 11 months ago by ressuccess.
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TheMeatman2005's avatar - lightening
Brooklyn, NY
United States
Member #169719
October 29, 2015
1412 Posts
Offline
Posted: September 10, 2018, 10:05 am - IP Logged

It's funny that this story ran today.

Yesterday, I played NY's Quick Draw for 20 games and knew I had won, but when I checked my ticket on the scanner, it said "Sorry, not a winner"

I then re-checked the game results on my phone and knew that I should have had a winner.

I told the store keeper about this and he said "Every once in a while the scanner does this and he has to re-start the lotto computer."

End result.... My ticket was a winner and the scanner malfunctioned.

The Meatman 🥩🍗🍔🍖🍤🌭

“The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket.” Will Rogers

Winning happens in a flash, Like A Bolt Of Lightning!  Patriot

    noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
    Chasing the Dream.
    White Shores- California
    United States
    Member #136473
    December 12, 2012
    5805 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: September 10, 2018, 11:06 am - IP Logged

    l have in the past,asked a few clerks at stores l visited whether their scanners for the MM & PB games, could ever malfunction, and the answer l have always gotten is " it's impossible." So, if the machine says " not a winner" does that give you the green light to rip up your ticket? 

     * Voice of Reason *   

     

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

      music*'s avatar - Lottery-009.jpg
      Navy Veteran USN
      Fresno, California
      United States
      Member #157851
      August 2, 2014
      3518 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: September 10, 2018, 2:03 pm - IP Logged

      Will Oregon's Lottery bottom line be affected by these mistakes? Integrity is extremely important. 

       James Monroe US Flag

        Avatar
        Kentucky
        United States
        Member #32651
        February 14, 2006
        8560 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: September 10, 2018, 6:58 pm - IP Logged

        The Oregon Lottery has built up a $1.2 billion a year business trafficking in the eternal thrill of gambling. Just one of its games, Keno, was played an extraordinary 73.7 million times last year.

        But the Keno odds took a sudden swing in the early morning hours of July 23, when scanners read all Keno tickets as losers, even when they weren't.

        The Lottery never widely disclosed the technical glitch that gave players zero chance of winning. The agency confirmed the defect lasted nearly six hours — from about 3 a.m. July 23 to 8:45 a.m. — causing 172 winning Keno tickets to get false readings from scanners. Players left about $1,400 in Keno winnings unclaimed from that day, according to the Lottery, presumably because they were misled by the lottery's equipment.

        In the context of Oregon's Keno game, which takes in $103 million a year, $1,400 is barely a rounding error. Nevertheless, the outage raises a question that has rarely, if ever, come up in the agency's 34-year history: Can players trust the Oregon Lottery?

        Technical glitches like the one that took down the Keno scanners on July 23 are exceedingly rare, Lottery officials say. A regularly scheduled software maintenance and update led to a corrupted file that rendered the Lottery's point-of-sale bar code readers temporarily misleading customers.

        But the agency was unable to provide a definitive accounting on the number of comparable glitches it has experienced. The agency didn't shut down Keno during the outage, allowing additional unsuspecting players to throw their money away.

        Farshad Allahdadi, the Lottery's director of gaming, said the agency and its technical contractors worked quickly to diagnose and repair the problem. Fairness and integrity are the agency's "life's blood," he said. "But we also operate computer-run games and they can sometimes crash."

        Reimbursing the affected players has proved impossible because the agency can't locate them. It was able to identify the 99 sites where players got false negatives and gave free Keno tickets to those retailers.  "We're doing the best we can," Allahdadi said. "But given that it's an anonymous, cash-based game, it's proven difficult."

        Keno prizes can be collected up to a year after the game is played. Allahdadi recommends that anyone who lost on July 23 should rescan their ticket now.

        Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, was surprised Lottery officials didn't just shut down the game. "That's the least they could have done," she said. "What you can't have is a situation where the Lottery is taking money out of the pockets of vulnerable Oregonians when they have no chance of winning."

        Sojourn at the Mad Dog

        The system crash might never have been disclosed but for Scott Graf, the owner of a diesel engine repair shop in Toledo and an enthusiastic Keno player. After work on July 22, Graf adjourned to his usual booth at the Mad Dog Tavern near Newport and watched the sun set on Yaquina Bay. His good day got better when he bought a couple Keno tickets and one came up a $1,120 winner.

        Keno is a simple matching game. Players buy cards imprinted with the numbers 1 through 80. In each game, staged every four minutes, 20 of the 80 numbers are randomly selected by the Lottery's computer system. Players' winnings depend on how many of those numbers match up with their cards.

        It is the third-most popular game offered by the Lottery, behind video poker and scratch-its, generating $64 million in prizes in 2017. The agency says the malfunction did not affect any other games, including video poker.

        Graf is an old hand at Keno, and $1,120 a big win. So, the next morning, he went to a local grocery store to again run his Keno tickets through a Lottery scanner. The machine said all seven of his tickets were losers.

        Wait, what? Graf knew he hadn't imagined the events of the night before. He returned home and checked the Lottery website. Sure enough, he saw that his ticket was a winner. In fact, two of his other Keno tickets were good for $12 and $20.

        He called Lottery officials demanding answers. Graf was livid at their response and remained so even after agency officials agreed to pay his winnings.

         "If I had not checked the tickets in my pocket the night before but only in the morning as I normally do I would have thrown away $1,152.00 and neither you nor I would have never known," he wrote in a July 30 email to the Oregon Lottery. "I do not believe, nor do I think you can prove this is a one-time occurrence or that you can be confident that this will not happen again."

        Graf is the sole Keno player to file a complaint over the outage, Lottery officials said.

        Precisely, Graf said, "because the other victims don't know they're victims."

        Graf is skeptical of the Lottery's findings about the $1,400 in unpaid winnings. That seems low for 172 tickets, he said.

        "One guy in little old Newport wins just about the same amount of money as the other 172?" Graf said, "I don't believe that for a minute."

        Key source of state funds

        In its 34 years of operation, the Lottery has become a vital source of revenue for the state, exceeded only by property taxes. In 2017, it transferred $695.8 million to Oregon's Economic Development Fund; the money funds economic development, schools and state parks.

        The Lottery has periodically generated some negative headlines for its reliance on so-called mini-casinos. Among its more than 3,900 participating retailers and restaurants, critics charge that a handful exist only to sell lottery games, which violates lottery rules.

        Earlier this year, the agency drew fire for implementing technology upgrades in its video poker machines that reduced the so-called "progressive jackpot" to the minimum level. Some gambling experts argued that was cheating players.

        But by and large, the Lottery has avoided bad press. With a big help from its principal technology contractor — International Gaming Technology — the games have worked, and sales have steadily grown. The Lottery paid $165 million to International Gaming Technology over the last five years — $29 million in fiscal 2017 alone.

        The state quickly brought in IGT technicians on July 23 when they realized they had a problem.  In the clipped, acronym-filled language of the IT professional, IGT's Justin Bruntmyer summed up the situation in a 3:46 am email:

        "At day-end ORESTE1 (primary system) had multiple products crash. Those products were mega millions, keno, win for life, validation, and MXSRV. IGT brought the systems back online and found that keno showed failed for the liab_update_and_purge process. This caused multiple processes to fail. Games are back online, however the processing has been affected."

        Like most Lottery games, Keno shuts down overnight from 2:30 to 5 a.m. Apparently, the thought of keeping Keno offline at 5 a.m. was never seriously considered. The game went live as scheduled and the scanners started spewing bad information to Graf and others.

        By 7:45 a.m., IGT found a stopgap solution: instead of giving players false negatives, the scanners notified them to try again later. An hour later, they had fixed the problem and Keno was back to normal.

        In other jurisdictions technology failures have had serious consequences.

        In England last month, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, an independent agency that oversees the gaming industry, issued a 1.3 million pound fine against Camelot UK, the private firm that operates the national lottery. Among other things, the commission found that Camelot had authorized the use of a glitchy mobile app that told players their winning ticket was a loser.

        There is no equivalent gambling commission in Oregon. The Lottery reports to a volunteer board appointed by the governor. The Oregon Lottery Commission is chaired by Mardilyn Saathhof, a lawyer for Northwest Natural Gas.

        Lottery staffers informed commission members and Gov. Kate Brown's office of the July 23 outage. No one at the agency or at IGT has been sanctioned.

        Jack Roberts, former director of the Lottery, said he was generally impressed with the quality of the staff when he ran the agency. He said he never encountered an outage like that of July 23 when he was there. "The most important thing to the lottery is its integrity," he said. "We know that the odds are in favor of the house. But people need to have confidence that the game is fair, and that if they win they're going to get paid."

        when scanners read all Keno tickets as losers, even when they weren't.

        I always thought the scanners were the reason there are so many unclaimed prizes because lots of people rely on the accuracy. The lottery vending machines are probably a better way to check tickets if players don't trust a clerk behind a terminal. 

        The agency confirmed the defect lasted nearly six hours — from about 3 a.m. July 23 to 8:45 a.m.

        The KY Keno game is closed between 2 and 5 AM, which make sense because the majority of play before and after is probably Online play. Wonder who plays and scans their Keno tickets between 3 and 8:45 AM in Oregon?

          rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
          Texas
          United States
          Member #55887
          October 23, 2007
          9011 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: September 10, 2018, 7:35 pm - IP Logged

          This is just confirmation in the wisdom of checking tickets against winning numbers on the lottery's website, and not trusting only the scanner.

          I know how much my winning tix are worth before I ever step foot in the store.

          CAN'T WIN IF YOU'RE NOT IN

          A DOLLAR AND A DREAM (OR $2)

            Groppo's avatar - cat anm.gif

            United States
            Member #162626
            January 7, 2015
            763 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: September 10, 2018, 8:25 pm - IP Logged

            .

            I play Keno, only when in a restaurant that I like (and is very cheap to eat at, and clean too).
            Still, I usually lose when playing Keno. I play only one set of numbers, and one set of spots.
            When that keno ticket is done, I call it quits until I eat at that restaurant again.

            • Don't chase the numbers you play.
            • Play only numbers you've already played, plus however many random picks.
            • But, ALWAYS the regular numbers you play.  This will make you a winner, not a chaser.
                       (so far, though, I've yet to win any significant lotto prize)
            • Oh, but always know where your tickets are, as well as your ticket's deadline.
              Avatar
              casper wyoming
              United States
              Member #136341
              December 9, 2012
              97 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: September 10, 2018, 9:26 pm - IP Logged

              I wonder how much they are going to lose in the upcoming lawsuits.

               

              My guess is atleast 2-3x what they would have paid out in winnings.

                ressuccess's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg

                United States
                Member #93160
                June 23, 2010
                3126 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: September 11, 2018, 11:08 am - IP Logged

                I didn't know why there was a curse that caused all Oregon Keno tickets to lose?

                I hope that one $2 ticket is the only one that matches all 5 numbers plus the PB to win the largest PB jackpot in United States history of over $2 Billion Dollars! I hope that one $2 ticket is the only one that matches all 5 numbers plus the Mega Ball to win the largest Mega Millions jackpot in United States history of over $2 Billion Dollars!