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Lottery petition attacks computerized drawings

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Lottery petition attacks computerized drawings

A popular lottery Internet Web site is opposing a controversial industry trend head-on, in an attempt to eliminate computer-generated drawings from all US lottery games.

Among the 41 states and the District of Columbia offering lottery games to the public, there are approximately 175 different lottery games.  In almost every one of those games the player selects three or more numbers, and those numbers are compared against numbers randomly selected by the state lottery to determine who is the winner.

In the past, the state lotteries have used mechanical drawing machines, such as the spinning drums with numbered ping-pong balls inside, to select the random numbers.

Now some states are replacing those draw machines with computerized drawings, in which a computer selects the winning numbers, without any means for players to see how the numbers are being selected.

And that's just the start of the controversy.

According to the popular lottery Web site Lottery Post (www.lotterypost.com), states justify the switchover to computerized drawings by pointing to cost savings, but those are costs which may never materialize.  Worse, any savings may be offset by losses due to decreased player participation.

Other arguments against computerized drawings include:

" Because computers are precise instruments, they are not designed to think randomly.  Thus, depending on the sophistication of the algorithm used by the computer to generate the lottery results, computers can create patterns of numbers, or favor certain numbers, rather than producing truly random numbers.

" A computer can be hacked into and the program can be changed to produce any sequence of numbers that the hacker desires.  If the hacker is clever enough they may be able to cover their tracks for some time, in the meantime taking the lottery -- and all of the other players -- for an expensive ride.

" Some or all of the savings by moving to computers may be offset by losses in player confidence and production costs of computer animations that display the computer-generated numbers as if they were drawn by a physical lottery machine.

" Player confidence may be further eroded since a side effect of computerized drawings appears to be the elimination of live televised lottery drawings.  The public is informed of the drawing results without the ability to witness the drawing.

To counter the growing trend of computerized drawings, Lottery Post posted an online petition that will be used in taking the case to the federal government, and imposing standards which all state lotteries must follow.

The petition calls for the elimination of all computerized drawings currently in effect, as well as prdventing the introduction of any further computerized drawings.

Further, live televised drawings are demanded for every lottery game.

Indiana resident Jim Grimes, who has led a fight in his state against the Hoosier Lottery's computerized drawings, is taking the issue to the national stage.

Grimes will be taking the signatures collected on the Petition for True Lottery Drawings to his congressman, along with a collection of data and industry stories showing the ill effects of computerized drawings.

If Grimes has his way, he and the petition signatories will impose federal mandates on the state lotteries to ensure fair and consistent drawing procedures among all states.

Only time will tell how this David vs. Goliath story will turn out, but it appears that the state lotteries will have a real fight on their hands if they want to continue having computers select their winning numbers.

Lottery Post Staff

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46 comments. Last comment 12 years ago by CASH Only.
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New Member
New York
United States
Member #5207
June 23, 2004
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Posted: August 29, 2004, 9:41 am - IP Logged

Keep the balls bouncing!!!!!!

    four4me's avatar - gate1
    MD
    United States
    Member #1701
    June 18, 2003
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    Posted: August 29, 2004, 11:02 am - IP Logged

    Well, Jim I'm glad that you are doing this. Like I said I believe this is the only way to get the ball rolling. Also you might want to get some friends to print up some petition papers to pass around and get personalized signatures also. maybe you can find some s who will help out in the different states that use this system also to get additional signatures. The more signatures you get will help in your efforts to get the decision to switch back to ball operated games.

      Avatar

      United States
      Member #434
      June 30, 2002
      675 Posts
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      Posted: August 29, 2004, 11:53 am - IP Logged

      " A computer can be hacked into and the program can be changed to produce any sequence of numbers that the hacker desires.  If the hacker is clever enough they may be able to cover their tracks for some time, in the meantime taking the lottery -- and all of the other players -- for an expensive ride.

      I don't see why any state lottery would have the RNG hooked up to any kind of network that would put it at risk for being hacked. So this is a weak argument.

      " Some or all of the savings by moving to computers may be offset by losses in player confidence and production costs of computer animations that display the computer-generated numbers as if they were drawn by a physical lottery machine.

      I'm quite sure the production costs for doing computer animations is alot cheaper than paying a lottery official to draw out the ping pong balls. Again, another weak argument.

      I'm not saying I like the computerized drawings. I would actually prefer the live drawings, but if you are going to take this to Congress, just make sure you have strong arguments.

        Avatar
        Texas
        United States
        Member #1477
        May 7, 2003
        2311 Posts
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        Posted: August 29, 2004, 12:38 pm - IP Logged

        I have to agree with smd on the "hacking" argument because I cant fathom any lottery commission having the computer that generates numbers hooked up to the internet.  Any "hacking" would have to come from an employee.....or...."inside job" from somebody not authorized to use the lottery computer.

        I do feel the public should be allowed to have a "public viewing" of the numbers when they are drawn though although I havent found computerized drawings having any impact on the Pick 3 game which I track.    The methods which I use arent effected one way or the other if drawings are computerized.

          hosni's avatar - hosni
          Escondido, CA
          United States
          Member #70
          December 31, 2001
          12784 Posts
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          Posted: August 29, 2004, 12:47 pm - IP Logged

          Does anyone have a list of the computer drawing States?  Here in California, the Daily game (Mid & Eve) and Fantasy-5 uses computers for their numbers, but CASL+ still uses balls.  I think LA was the first State to use computers. From what I understand, PA uses a computer for Midday draw, and MO has gone to computers. Any other States?

          Retired Grumman Aerospace Corporation F-14 Tomcat AVIONICS Field Engineer Extraordinaire

            DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
            Yinzer Country, PA
            United States
            Member #4067
            March 18, 2004
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            Posted: August 29, 2004, 12:50 pm - IP Logged

            there's a thread that i started that has all of the states that use RNGs for their drawings.

            I've redone my website.  Go to www.dr-ew.com.  I kept a lot of the old stuff, and I've added some new stuff.  Look for more new stuff in the coming weeks.

              BobP's avatar - bobp avatar.png
              Dump Water Florida
              United States
              Member #380
              June 5, 2002
              3102 Posts
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              Posted: August 29, 2004, 1:07 pm - IP Logged
              Quote: Originally posted by smd173 on August 29, 2004



              " A computer can be hacked into and the program can be changed to produce any sequence of numbers that the hacker desires.  If the hacker is clever enough they may be able to cover their tracks for some time, in the meantime taking the lottery -- and all of the other players -- for an expensive ride.

              I don't see why any state lottery would have the RNG hooked up to any kind of network that would put it at risk for being hacked. So this is a weak argument.

              Read a Tom Clancy book. A hacker can't hack a totally isolated computer, but a machine that is constantly checked and tested had to be ordered and perhaps repaired if it has accessible drive ports can have code added. 

              " Some or all of the savings by moving to computers may be offset by losses in player confidence and production costs of computer animations that display the computer-generated numbers as if they were drawn by a physical lottery machine.

              I'm quite sure the production costs for doing computer animations is alot cheaper than paying a lottery official to draw out the ping pong balls. Again, another weak argument.

              Of course it's cheaper, but people like to see the draw. Computer draws are the equlivent of people walking into a room, locking the door and then coming out with the winning numbers, a process americans despise.  If only one percent of players stop playing or never start because they were warned off the savings are a drop in the bucket compared to the loss in sales.  BobP

              I'm not saying I like the computerized drawings. I would actually prefer the live drawings, but if you are going to take this to Congress, just make sure you have strong arguments.




              http://www.lotto-logix.com/weasels.html

              Axis of Weasels.
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                Columbia City, Indiana
                United States
                Member #2978
                December 9, 2003
                381 Posts
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                Posted: August 29, 2004, 1:43 pm - IP Logged

                " A computer can be hacked into and the program can be changed to produce any sequence of numbers that the hacker desires.  If the hacker is clever enough they may be able to cover their tracks for some time, in the meantime taking the lottery -- and all of the other players -- for an expensive ride.

                Smd173 wrote:

                I don't see why any state lottery would have the RNG hooked up to any kind of network that would put it at risk for being hacked. So this is a weak argument.

                The argument is weak because you don't see why they would do this? Well, smd173, you've convinced me. Your compelling argument blows my theories, and the evidence LosingJeff and I have collected, clear out of the water. I can't imagine why I never saw that; thanks for pointing it out. Apparently, the Hoosier Lottery was lying about their two draw machines being located three miles apart, and to believe they're connected is a ridiculous notion. Next time, I'll know to verify my information with you before posting it. Now, just so I'm clear, do they really keep one of their official draw machines at Scientific Games offices in Indianapolis? The Hoosier Lottery is under that impression; I'd just like to know if they're wrong. 

                " Some or all of the savings by moving to computers may be offset by losses in player confidence and production costs of computer animations that display the computer-generated numbers as if they were drawn by a physical lottery machine.

                Smd173 continues:

                I'm quite sure the production costs for doing computer animations is alot cheaper than paying a lottery official to draw out the ping pong balls. Again, another weak argument.

                Ah. Another gem. I don't know how I could have been so stupid; especially since, in Indiana, they still pay the woman to call out the numbers (on a local station) as they're being displayed, one by one, with the animation program, but her salary wouldn't be included in the actual production costs. Again, your well-thought-out, and well-informed, views totally negate my own.

                I bow to your superior intellect and am humbled by your obvious expertise.

                I notice you've neglected to divulge your state of residence but, if you'd care to let us know where you live, I'll be happy to campaign for an RNG in your state lottery. As a matter of fact, you can have ours.

                Come, Pinky; we must prepare for tomorrow night...

                Jim

                  psykomo's avatar - animal shark.jpg

                  United States
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                  May 30, 2004
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                  Posted: August 29, 2004, 1:59 pm - IP Logged





                  Why not ask everyone to go on a $$Dollar Diet$$? If.... players elect to "get lean" maby some of the states will get the message. Players can put money aside for the games at some later date if the states, agree with players. Courts will take years and money to get anywhere near a solution. Otherwise, the states and lottery management have "the right" to present and change the games as they see fit. REMEMBER, it's YOH honey, Do whah you WANNA DO!



                  GOOD "fat" LUCK...................................Psykomo   

                    BobP's avatar - bobp avatar.png
                    Dump Water Florida
                    United States
                    Member #380
                    June 5, 2002
                    3102 Posts
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                    Posted: August 29, 2004, 2:41 pm - IP Logged
                    Quote: Originally posted by psykomo on August 29, 2004




                    Why not ask everyone to go on a $$Dollar Diet$$? If.... players elect to "get lean" maby some of the states will get the message. Players can put money aside for the games at some later date if the states, agree with players. Courts will take years and money to get anywhere near a solution. Otherwise, the states and lottery management have "the right" to present and change the games as they see fit. REMEMBER, it's YOH honey, Do whah you WANNA DO!

                    GOOD "fat" LUCK...................................Psykomo   


                    Beyond the burden of asking everyone is the obvious question of making the connection between any public action and the people who run things.  Every time I see a message like drive with your lights on today to protest gas prices or other such gimick it never gets very far or to the people who run things.

                    However, the best example of such purblic action is every 4th of July when not even our law makers can miss the billions of pops of "illegal" fireworks, the people totally ignore the law by the millions and yet are in turn ignored.

                    Take the time to write your lottery and let them know you won't play a computerized game and don't want one ever.  Address it to the director not the peon who answers the mail.  Do it today.  BobP
                      Rick G's avatar - avatar 1766.jpg
                      FEMA Region V Camp #21
                      United States
                      Member #520
                      July 27, 2002
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                      Posted: August 29, 2004, 2:58 pm - IP Logged

                      Bob,

                      Excellent point....write to your lottery directors and tell them you will no longer play the game if it becomes computerized.

                      I will be doing this as soon as I get off L.P. and would seriously urge others to follow this sage advice.  When the lottery director's job is at stake, state lottery revenues will be the ultimate determinators whether that director keeps their job and whether the state continues to get 50% of the revenues we are contributing to.

                      Thanks Bob.  I hope everyone on these forums takes the time to do this, as well as to sign the L.P. petition.  This is a no-brainer that needs action fast because of the quick spread of this potentially dishonest way to pick our lottery numbers.

                      Posted 4/6:  IL Pick 3 midday and evening until they hit:  555, 347 (str8).


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                        United States
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                        Posted: August 29, 2004, 3:14 pm - IP Logged

                        Jim,

                        Your sarcastic reply is not appreciated and I can guarantee you that if you take that kind of attitude with you as you try to get the RNG abolished in Indiana, you'll have the reverse effect.

                        I was not aware of what evidence you and LosingJeff had accumlated. So all you had to do was present it, or direct me to where you had presented it previously.

                        I live in PA which uses the RNG for their Mid Day drawings. Because of your wonderful attitude, I will not sign your petition or help you in any way to achieve your goal.

                          Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                          Chief Bottle Washer
                          New Jersey
                          United States
                          Member #1
                          May 31, 2000
                          23259 Posts
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                          Posted: August 29, 2004, 3:47 pm - IP Logged

                          smd183 & Clipper,

                          Before taking things so lightly, you should really try to understand that with billions of dollars at stake, people are apt to do things that they wouldn't otherwise.  You should listen to what BobP said: hacking is very feasible.  And if you think the LOTTERY is renowned for their superior IT expertise, you're barking up the wrong tree.  I'm sure they're more than capable of handling what programming tasks are needed, but they are not going to be industry leaders in technology security.

                          Sad that you decided to use your space here by trying to pick on a couple of points you disagree with, rather than perhaps adding something positive.  Clipper, I believe the petition does indeed mention an inside job, so I'm not sure why you would use it as a counter-point.

                           

                          Check the State Lottery Report Card
                          What grade did your lottery earn?

                           

                          Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                          Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                            ayenowitall's avatar - rod serling4.jpg

                            United States
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                            April 22, 2004
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                            Posted: August 29, 2004, 3:56 pm - IP Logged

                            I hope that we'll all be able to reconcile our differences in order to pull together on this very important campaign. Let's try to look at the big picture. This issue is far more important than any debate on board. We need unity.