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NM Lottery Pick 4 computerized drawing glitch made many tickets worthless

Feb 21, 2019, 7:25 pm

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New Mexico LotteryNew Mexico Lottery: NM Lottery Pick 4 computerized drawing glitch made many tickets worthlessRating:

Players can get a refund — IF they held onto losing tickets

By Todd Northrop

When the New Mexico Lottery introduced its latest lottery draw game, Pick 4, in early February, players had no idea that many of the tickets they purchased were completely worthless with no chance of winning.

That's because the game's computerized drawings were incorrectly programmed, making combinations with repeat digits impossible to be drawn.  Only combinations in which every digit was different were able to be drawn by the computer system.

The issue was not discovered proactively by an eagle-eyed employee examining computer code, but was found because the first two weeks of drawings yielded only combinations with no repeat numbers, making the lottery suspicious.

This is one of the main problems with computerized drawings: Unlike traditional lottery ball drawings, there is no way for anyone to know how the drawing actually works and audit the drawing as it is occurring.  These types of devastating problems typically are found long after many worthless lottery tickets are purchased by players.

If the New Mexico Lottery was using a traditional ball drawing system, an employee watching the drawing could easily see a problem and have a do-over, or whatever the right corrective action would be.  But with a computerized drawing?  There is no way to "witness" the drawing at all, since it is all taking place hidden inside a computer "black box".  An employee presses a button and numbers are displayed on a computer screen, with no way of knowing what was done to generate them.

For people who played Pick 4 combinations with no repeat digits, their tickets are still valid and any prizes will be honored. (In fact, their tickets had a much better chance of winning than they normally would, due to the computerized drawing error.)

In a press release issued Thursday evening, the New Mexico Lottery stated that the error, which was made by the Lottery's gaming vendor, has been corrected.

The gaming vendor will be responsible for costs incurred with the incident.

The Lottery will issue refunds for impacted tickets, as long as the original tickets have been kept. Players who purchased Pick 4 plays with at least two identical numbers (e.g. 1123, 1112, or 1111) from February 3 through the midday drawing on February 19, 2019, may contact the Lottery either in person or by postal mail to request a refund.

That's a total of 33 botched drawings.

Mail requests must include (1) the player's full name, (2) the player's mailing address, (3) the player's contact phone number, and (4) the amount of Pick 4 plays purchased with at least two identical numbers.

The lottery further stated that players may receive the actual purchase value of plays if original tickets are provided, but did not state what players without the original tickets would receive — if anything.

According to the Lottery, players have only three weeks to request a refund. Requests need to be submitted by March 15, 2019.

Players can mail refund requests to:

New Mexico Lottery Authority
ATTN: Pick 4 Reimbursement
P.O. Box 93190
Albuquerque, NM 87199-3190

Or, players can get their refunds in person at:

New Mexico Lottery Authority
4511 Osuna Rd. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109

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

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 2017, the Arizona Lottery had to take computerized drawing machines completely out of service due to repeat numbers being drawn. (See Arizona Lottery computerized drawing machine generated identical winning numbers, Lottery Post, Oct. 6, 2017.)

Just four years prior to that, 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.

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

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

We'd love to see your comments here!  Register for a FREE membership — it takes just a few moments — and you'll be able to post comments here and on any of our forums. If you're already a member, you can Log In to post a comment.

17 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by Stack47.
Page 1 of 2
TheMeatman2005's avatar - lightening
Brooklyn, NY
United States
Member #169719
October 29, 2015
1490 Posts
Offline

Another reason that ball drawings are needed. 

To err is human; to really foul things up requires a computer.

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

    music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
    USN United States Navy
    Fresno, California
    United States
    Member #157851
    August 2, 2014
    3959 Posts
    Offline

    Thank You, Todd Northrop and the Lottery Post Staff for holding their feet to the fire. Soon the dam will burst and change will occur. Follow the money trail.

     "We are all in this together!" 

      grwurston's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
      Win Today.
      bel air maryland
      United States
      Member #90247
      April 24, 2010
      9396 Posts
      Offline

      We already know that lotteries keep track of how many tickets are sold for each individual number before the drawings take place. This explains why there are "sold out" numbers.

      With computer drawings how do we know for sure the computers aren't programmed to pick numbers with the fewest tickets sold? We don't. If that's the case, it's an even bigger money maker for the state lottery that uses them. Fewer winners, more money for them.  That makes it pretty easy to see why they are so reluctant to switch back to ball drawings even it is what most players want.

      "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.

        oate's avatar - AS5hcja

        United States
        Member #193172
        October 22, 2018
        491 Posts
        Offline

        Players can get a refund — IF they held onto losing tickets

        By Todd Northrop

        When the New Mexico Lottery introduced its latest lottery draw game, Pick 4, in early February, players had no idea that many of the tickets they purchased were completely worthless with no chance of winning.

        That's because the game's computerized drawings were incorrectly programmed, making combinations with repeat digits impossible to be drawn.  Only combinations in which every digit was different were able to be drawn by the computer system.

        The issue was not discovered proactively by an eagle-eyed employee examining computer code, but was found because the first two weeks of drawings yielded only combinations with no repeat numbers, making the lottery suspicious.

        This is one of the main problems with computerized drawings: Unlike traditional lottery ball drawings, there is no way for anyone to know how the drawing actually works and audit the drawing as it is occurring.  These types of devastating problems typically are found long after many worthless lottery tickets are purchased by players.

        If the New Mexico Lottery was using a traditional ball drawing system, an employee watching the drawing could easily see a problem and have a do-over, or whatever the right corrective action would be.  But with a computerized drawing?  There is no way to "witness" the drawing at all, since it is all taking place hidden inside a computer "black box".  An employee presses a button and numbers are displayed on a computer screen, with no way of knowing what was done to generate them.

        For people who played Pick 4 combinations with no repeat digits, their tickets are still valid and any prizes will be honored. (In fact, their tickets had a much better chance of winning than they normally would, due to the computerized drawing error.)

        In a press release issued Thursday evening, the New Mexico Lottery stated that the error, which was made by the Lottery's gaming vendor, has been corrected.

        The gaming vendor will be responsible for costs incurred with the incident.

        The Lottery will issue refunds for impacted tickets, as long as the original tickets have been kept. Players who purchased Pick 4 plays with at least two identical numbers (e.g. 1123, 1112, or 1111) from February 3 through the midday drawing on February 19, 2019, may contact the Lottery either in person or by postal mail to request a refund.

        That's a total of 33 botched drawings.

        Mail requests must include (1) the player's full name, (2) the player's mailing address, (3) the player's contact phone number, and (4) the amount of Pick 4 plays purchased with at least two identical numbers.

        The lottery further stated that players may receive the actual purchase value of plays if original tickets are provided, but did not state what players without the original tickets would receive — if anything.

        According to the Lottery, players have only three weeks to request a refund. Requests need to be submitted by March 15, 2019.

        Players can mail refund requests to:

        New Mexico Lottery Authority
        ATTN: Pick 4 Reimbursement
        P.O. Box 93190
        Albuquerque, NM 87199-3190

        Or, players can get their refunds in person at:

        New Mexico Lottery Authority
        4511 Osuna Rd. NE
        Albuquerque, NM 87109

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

        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 2017, the Arizona Lottery had to take computerized drawing machines completely out of service due to repeat numbers being drawn. (See Arizona Lottery computerized drawing machine generated identical winning numbers, Lottery Post, Oct. 6, 2017.)

        Just four years prior to that, 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.

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

        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?

        These days most high-school students could write the few lines of code it takes to create a Pick 4 RNG. I'm inclined to think many of these programming errors are intentional.

        Only my hairdresser knows for sure.

          Avatar
          Jacksonville
          United States
          Member #153801
          March 26, 2014
          770 Posts
          Offline

          The only way states will give up computerized drawings is if players stop buying those tickets.

            Tucker Black's avatar - Kleber Vieira.jpg
            Reno, NV
            United States
            Member #173299
            February 25, 2016
            334 Posts
            Offline

            The only way states will give up computerized drawings is if players stop buying those tickets.

            Absolutely!

            People should flat-out REFUSE to play computerized lottery games. It just makes no sense for an agency that brings in millions and millions of dollars in profits to not use ball drawings. The savings are peanuts.

              Avatar
              Chasing $ Millions.
              White Shores- California
              United States
              Member #136473
              December 12, 2012
              6313 Posts
              Offline

              Strange isn't it? A person condemned to the gas chamber has potassium cyanide pellets dropped into a bath of sulfuric acid that generates hydrogen cyanide gas......yet an employee presses a button and numbers are displayed on a computer screen with no way of knowing what was done to generate them. 

               * Voice of Reason *   

               

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

                Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
                100
                Zeta Reticuli Star System
                United States
                Member #30469
                January 17, 2006
                11497 Posts
                Offline

                The only way states will give up computerized drawings is if players stop buying those tickets.

                Good point, gatorsok, but to paraphrase Field of Dreams, if you offer it they will play.

                Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any. So many systems, so many theories, so few jackpot winners. 

                Lep

                There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                  Avatar
                  Simpsonville
                  United States
                  Member #163184
                  January 22, 2015
                  2256 Posts
                  Offline

                  Though not even remotely related to Tipton, his name came to mind.  He would never waste his time on 'small time lotteries' like that if he were a free man.

                  At least the NM is saving face and doing the right thing by reimbursing losing tickets versus others who just say 'oh well'.

                  Wish that Indiana would put mechanical balls in Hoosier Lotto and Cash 5.    Are they still televising the pick 3 or pick4 drawings or just live streaming like many other states do??

                   

                  Good luck everyone in the lottery drawings tonight and tomorrow in particular.

                    lakerben's avatar - batman40
                    100
                    New Mexico
                    United States
                    Member #86096
                    January 29, 2010
                    16319 Posts
                    Offline

                    Wow!

                    Im headed over therw to be reimbursed!!!

                    No wonder the doubles didnt hit!

                    Win!

                      Groppo's avatar - cat anm.gif

                      United States
                      Member #162626
                      January 7, 2015
                      778 Posts
                      Offline

                      .

                      This is just too much.   These secondary lotteries need to go by the way of the trash can.

                      And Todd, as grateful as I am for being able to come to usamega.com and look up both main prizes
                      in an instant, I think you should just report on these two main lottos
                      which I've been a fan of since last century.

                      But the dishonesty, the errors such as with New Mexico, in this case, and all other things just go to prove the
                      validity and longevity of ONLY the two main lottos:  MM and PB.

                      We don't need other games like rng, (except maybe for keno? idk. Haven't played keno in a while.).

                      So, Todd, please, I think we (your loyal LP members) may all be confident that there are only 2 real lotteries to be played in the USA:  MM and PB.

                      Mr. Groppo

                      • 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.
                        lakerben's avatar - batman40
                        100
                        New Mexico
                        United States
                        Member #86096
                        January 29, 2010
                        16319 Posts
                        Offline

                        .

                        This is just too much.   These secondary lotteries need to go by the way of the trash can.

                        And Todd, as grateful as I am for being able to come to usamega.com and look up both main prizes
                        in an instant, I think you should just report on these two main lottos
                        which I've been a fan of since last century.

                        But the dishonesty, the errors such as with New Mexico, in this case, and all other things just go to prove the
                        validity and longevity of ONLY the two main lottos:  MM and PB.

                        We don't need other games like rng, (except maybe for keno? idk. Haven't played keno in a while.).

                        So, Todd, please, I think we (your loyal LP members) may all be confident that there are only 2 real lotteries to be played in the USA:  MM and PB.

                        Mr. Groppo

                        They will get it fixed. At least they are making good on their mistake.  The pick 3 has been good to md and ive done good with the p4 even with the mistakes.

                        Win!

                          music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
                          USN United States Navy
                          Fresno, California
                          United States
                          Member #157851
                          August 2, 2014
                          3959 Posts
                          Offline

                          .

                          This is just too much.   These secondary lotteries need to go by the way of the trash can.

                          And Todd, as grateful as I am for being able to come to usamega.com and look up both main prizes
                          in an instant, I think you should just report on these two main lottos
                          which I've been a fan of since last century.

                          But the dishonesty, the errors such as with New Mexico, in this case, and all other things just go to prove the
                          validity and longevity of ONLY the two main lottos:  MM and PB.

                          We don't need other games like rng, (except maybe for keno? idk. Haven't played keno in a while.).

                          So, Todd, please, I think we (your loyal LP members) may all be confident that there are only 2 real lotteries to be played in the USA:  MM and PB.

                          Mr. Groppo

                           Thumbs DownI disagree with Groppo. Variety is the spice of life as my Mother used to say. 

                           The more the merrier. I am sure that Todd is attracting more LP Members and not pushing them away. See Ya!

                           "We are all in this together!" 

                            Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
                            100
                            Zeta Reticuli Star System
                            United States
                            Member #30469
                            January 17, 2006
                            11497 Posts
                            Offline

                            Groppo,

                            Why, oh why, do you assume everybody would want to play only the games you play?

                            Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any. So many systems, so many theories, so few jackpot winners. 

                            Lep

                            There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.