|Posted: December 30, 2006, 8:46 am - IP Logged|
For lottery players everywhere, there is one part of the lottery that is rarely talked about. It's the "central computer system" that each province or state uses to record every lottery ticket combination that is put through a lottery terminal.
In Ontario, the central computer system is the "epitomy of integrity". It has to be. Whenever a lottery player goes to a retailer and opts for a quick pick or chooses his or her lucky numbers, the central computer records the selection in its database and give the lottery player a control number on the bottom of his or her ticket. That is why winning lottery numbers always stay unofficial, because it isn't the numbers on the ticket itself that makes it a winner, it's the control number on the bottom of the ticket that is actually the winning combination in the computer's eye.
The Central Computer System for Ontario lottery players is located in North York, a little north of Toronto. The people who work in that part of the lottery division are rarely seen, It's a small office building that is under high security and surveillance. And no, you can not visit it. There's a locked back room which has about 20-30 large databases that stand about six feet off the ground. Each database has huge magnetic recording tapes that are constantly turning, recording ticket selections, and also communicating with retailers. e.g redeeming winners, providing draw results, and game information. All the databases in the room are hooked up to a central computer which in under heavy lock and key.
When it comes to draw closing time (9PM) across Ontario, it is usualy smooth sailing. The people that work there ensure that the central computer system has stopped the sales and that no other tickets can be sold or recorded in the system. When they have absolute confirmation, a phone call is made to downtown Toronto where lottery officials (Dave Giles and Jock Fairclough) await in the studio. In their draws studio, the balls and machines have already been set-up and are raring to go. They get word of confirmation by that phone call...it sets off a giant strobe light in the studio--that flashes telling them its NORTH YORK calling and its safe to go.
The person on the other end now gived Jock and Dave the sales information for every part of the game. They tell them how much people spent on Pick 3, Pick 4, Lottario, Daily Keno, Ontario 49. They also break down the sales for our TAG game ENCORE. How many people played Encore on 6-49 Ontario sales, How many chose it on Lottario, how many said YES to it on Pick 3. you get the idea.
There is a break for the central computer system...draw sales reopen 15 minutes after shut down. Officials out there can only wait now for the draw to be conducted and the results fed into the computer. Usually a little after 9:30, the winning numbers are faxed from downtown to North York. Now, this is where triple checking your results come in ! Although Jock and Dave have checked the draw results four or five times before faxing it over, the person entering the results into the central computer must be 100 percent accurate. Whatever they enter into the central computer system sticks. Nowhere can it be changed because lottery reatailers are getting the results as soon as that happens and giving them to you, the player.. As soon as the draw results are available, the public gets them.
Although prize payouts may not be completely available, for most of the daily games the computer has gone through all the data and is usually complete.
Every now and then when a jackpot grows to a giant size, the central computer works overtime taking in milliions of selections in a day. With over 15000 lottery retailers in the province, it takes extra time for the central computer to record the selections and sometimes hours to shut down. No draw can every be conducted if there is fear or a sense that the system may still be up somewhere. And no, the central computer system is never used to see what combinations have not been played or what is the least likely numbers. It's complete integrity.
So the next time you look at your online-lottery tickets, you know for certain your ticket is recorded and by luck of the draw, you might be an "unofficial winner" !
PS...the central computer has nothing to do with computerized draws. That is done from a system not associated with the lottery terminal. Ontario doesn't and will never used computerized draws.