Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The REAL reason lotteries like RNG

Random Number Generators. They are, for many reasons, the bane of many lottery player's existance. In some cases the complaints are enough to make you believe that the complainer is a member of the frequent buyer's club at Ty's Tin-Foil Hat Warehouse. But there are just as many good reasons for hating these things, one of which is that they have proven to be problematic, and those problems can go on unnoticed indefinitely.

For example, when ball machines screw up and have problems, they're easy to spot, because ping-pong and rubber balls, and the machines that mix them, are completely tangible. If there's a crack in the ball, you're going to see it, and you can rectify it quickly. That isn't always possible with RNGs, because you can't easily spot a "crack" in a computer program's code. Case in point, when problems came up with California's and Tennessee's RNG, they were not noticed and fixed until some keen-eyed players noticed the problem many draws later. These problems kept some players from winning, and these problems would not have occurred if the lotteries in question had stuck with ball drawings. The lotteries obviously did not want this to happen, as at least in Tennessee, this proved to be a PR nightmare. But none of these lotteries have switched back to balls despite the bad press. Why is this? Are they really trying to screw players? Are they rigging the draws and just got caught? No, frequent buyer of tin-foil hats, but the real reason, as I have figured out, isn't that much better. The reason is, they're lazy.

Yeah, they're lazy.

You see, RNGs are a lot easier to use. No inspecting balls, no loading balls into the machine for the test draw, not loading balls for the real draw. All officials have to do is sign a few names, clip a few seals, make a few mouse clicks, and just like that they have numbers. That's the real reason a lot of lottery directors like these things, and that's the real reason the use them. Lost sales are, in their eyes, perfectly justified if it means less work for them and as long as the sales drops aren't catastrophic, lottery directors won't be getting any pink slips from the governor. After all, they get most of their sales from scratch-offs anyway.