Coronavirus claims another victim: Real lottery drawings
By Todd Northrop
Starting today, you will no longer be able to watch how the Kentucky Lottery draws its daily numbers games because the drawings now take place inside a computer program.
The daily Pick 3, Pick 4, and CashBall 225 games are all transitioned to computerized drawings starting Monday, and will no longer be drawn using balls and machines. Instead, a dedicated computer system known as a random number generator will randomly generate winning numbers.
This is not a new system to the Kentucky Lottery; winning numbers for the daily 5 Card Cash game have been drawn using a random number generator for almost eight years. Currently 31 state lotteries in the U.S. use some form of a random number generator for their lottery drawings.
"By using this system, our drawings will be done in a much quicker manner with the same levels of security and integrity," said the Kentucky Lottery's Sr. vice president of communications, PR and social responsibility Chip Polston. "Given the current COVID-19 situation, we want to improve safety for our draw staff as much as possible. Instead of taking an hour for the midday drawing and almost two hours for the evening drawing using the old method of balls and machines, we will now be able to complete this vital function in a matter of minutes."
The random number generators are not connected to any external system and contain no ability to connect to the internet. The device is locked into a full-sized chassis, and tampering is prevented with a bar-coded security bolt that has to be destroyed to be removed. Detailed written procedures require two people to be present at all times in order to access the system, containing a number of checks which must be verified by both individuals before a drawing can be conducted.
The random number generators are housed in the dedicated draw studio with extensive electronic and video surveillance located at the Kentucky Lottery headquarters building in Louisville. Midday lottery drawings take place at approximately 1:20 PM EST, and the evening drawing occurs at approximately 10:58 PM EST.
As always, winning numbers will be available minutes after the drawing on Lottery Post's Kentucky Lottery Results page.
Let's hope for the best
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 worst cases of fraud and drawing failures have always come from computerized drawings.
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.)
Does this mean Kentucky Lottery players will experience these same problems? Perhaps, or perhaps not. But either way, it's one more thing to worry about during a time when people would rather not be burdened with additional worries.