DAY IN THE LIFE OF A LOTTERY DRAW
It's 11 AM on a Wednesday morning, lottery draws officials are just arriving for a long day of work. Many people may think that the officials only work after 6 Pm at night...however, throughout the day they are extremely busy. They are responsible for ensuring that every newspaper, TV, and news service have the correct numbers and that everything happens fairly that evening. They spend a lot of their time on the phones answering phone calls from the general public, instilling their and the lottery's integirty. Calls like "WHY DID THAT NUMBER HAVE SIX 4'S IN IT LAST NIGHT?!?!" .
They are also arranging and preparing for game changes that come from promotions and marketing, they prepare for bonus draws, labeling and logging video tapes from the previous nights drawing. They are responsible for making sure all the policies and procedures are being followed. If something fails or incorrect information gets out, it's on THEIR shoulders. Another daily routine is making sure that plastics seals (the seals that most lotteries use to ensure no one has tampered with the cases) are prepared, labelled, recorded, and ready for use that evening or for the week.
By 8PM, the officials arrives at the draw site...usually a TV studio or in some places a secure room with video surveillance and many locks. It's at this point that most of the preliminary set-up is done. Here in Ontario that means opening the safe where the sealed cases of balls are stored. They remove two cases of balls. The equiptment is powered up and the results from the previous days draws are tripled check. In Ontario two draws technicians/co-ordinators and one public observer (an officier of trust) are needed. When the Officer of Trust arrives it usually entails about ten good monutes of conversation of how the wife and kids are doing--checking the prvious days results--and waiting for draw shut down.
As "draw shut down time" approaches, they wait anxiously for the call. A coin is also tossed and one of the sealed cases is chosen. Before the seals are opened, they are checked to make sure no one has switched or broken them or in short--tampered with the cases. The inspection records may also be checked to see when the last time the balls were tested. They also have to sign the records every time the sealed cases are opened. The set of balls is opened and placed carefully in the rack of the machine. Some states require gloves be used when handling the balls. Here, the balls are from a company called Ryo-Catteau and made of solid india rubber. No gloves needed. The number itself is apart of the ball--it's embedded into the ball itself. Each ball costs about $300 and each machine a mere $90,000.
Once the clock strikes 9PM magic happens. On the wall hangs a huge strobe light. It reminds me of the Pentagon--like waiting for the President to call and say fire the rockets. That cue tells the draws officials that every lottery terminal across Ontario is closed and no other tickets can be sold for that days/weeks games. The official makes a phone call to the computer centre where they confirm out-right that every terminal from Ottawa to Thunder Bay to Windsor are indeed closed. Within that phone call, sales information is exchanged. This is how much money was spent on each part of the game, how many people said yes to Encore ( the tag game for Ontario), how much money did Ontario 49 generate, How many people said yes to Encore on Pick 3, how much money was taken in for pick 3. ..etc
Once they hang up, the sales information is written down and posted on the front of the draws machine for each game. Wednesday night is a hectic night. Not only do they have about six draws to do, they also have another big draw waiting for them across town--Lotto 6-49.
The video recording starts alsmost immediately, the machine turned on and each draw conducted. Following the draw(s) the TRUST OFFICER and draws officials compare notes. This is to make absolute certainty that each have written clearly the correct winning numbers. THEY HAVE TO BE COMPLETELY ACCURATE--as the next step is faxing the results to the central computer, contacting 680 News, faxing the Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, and TV stations. After the Ontario draws are done, the TRUST OFFICER and officials place the balls back into the case. New security seals are put on the case and they are locked back up in the safe for tomorrow night.
In the meantime, one of the draws co-ordinator leaves and travels to CFTO-TV, just a little north Toronto, that's where the national Lotto 6-49 game happens. Most of the same procedures take place, except there is an auditor and the draws are conducted through the Inter-Provincial Lottery Corporation. The officials could be out in 30 minutes or there for 10 hours.
No joke. One night, when Super 7 was over $35 Million, it took a good five hours for confirmation that lottery terminals were shut down. No draw ever can take place if there is a chance that one terminal is still open. BC Lottery could not confirm that every terminal was shut down. Nobody was allowed to leave the studio and the drawing got started after 2:30 AM.
Once it's confirmed, again sales are recorded for each province. To give you an idea, overall sales are usually between $40-75 million dollars. The draw happens without a hitch. After the draw, the ILC requires that remaining balls (42 of them) are taken from the machine and put back into their case. The winning balls (7 of them) are left in ball drop rack. This ensures two things...a) that the empty spaces in the case do indeed belong to those in the ball drop rack. And b) that no other balls or extra numbers fell into the ball drop. The balls can now be safely put away.
The same procedures take place...inspection records signed, the balls are sealed, and the machine and sealed ball case is rolled away; locked into a secure room.
The only thing left to this long day is a TV host arrives in the studio and stands in front of the lottery set. There is no machine or balls as they've been put away. A video tape of what happened five minutes ago is rolled in and they announce it as if it was happening LIVE. It's fun to watch. One week the host was on vacation. A back-up host came in. It took them several takes to get the audio and video correct. The host would be announcing the numbers before they came out of the machine....lol...they would say first number out is 6,,,and out would come the 6. :) They had to stop recording and tell her to wait for the ball to fall from the machine before you call it. It looks completely rigged when you do it like that. Obviously they did a few takes and found a good take in the end.
All in all, a draws co-ordinator/official is not an easy job, but I would take the job in a snap. You have to be passionate, on your toes, enjoy long work days, deal with the public and be accurate all at the same time. If you ever get the chance, go out to a lottery drawing, you will be impressed.