- What would happen if, crazy as it might sound, a newspaper
published the correct numbers of a lottery É before the numbers
- Expect a visit. From the lottery law.
- This story begins a few days ago on Wednesday when a
Vancouver resident called Oregon Lottery officials. He was reading The
Columbian and noticed something startling. The winning numbers appeared
in our paper before they were drawn. Lottery officials had heard it all
before. But this was a new one. Surely the caller was mistaken.
- So, David Hooper, public affairs manager of the Oregon
Lottery, placed a call to The Columbian. He asked for the numbers we had
printed in the Pick 4 Oregon Lottery game. We told him: 6-8-5-5. That's
not what he wanted to hear. Because those were the numbers that were drawn
several hours after we published. We got a call back. Would we fax him
a copy of the page? Sure. It was 6-8-5-5 again. OK, one last try. Oregon
Lottery officials went out and bought a copy of The Columbian. Maybe our
call and the fax were sort of a joke.
- You know the way newspapers love to have fun with authority
figures. But when they plunked down their 50 cents, (very, very dramatic
pause required here) they were at a loss. We indeed had published the winning
numbers several hours before they were drawn.
- Hmmm. "Game security is our most valuable commodity,"
Hooper would say later. "This was something we needed to take a more
serious look at."
- Time to go to DefCon 4. (What, you didn't see "War
Games"?) There are dozens of checks and double-checks firewalls, if
you will to protect the integrity of the lottery game, and every one of
them would now have to be checked. Could there have been a leak in the
system? An inside job? A fix? If someone could get the numbers in advance,
think of the quick money that could be made.
- Think of how the entire Oregon Lottery, which brings
in millions of dollars, would collapse. But the firewalls all checked out.
There still was no answer. Hooper had no options left. So he called the
law. That's when Lloyd W. Beil, a detective with the Oregon State Police's
gaming enforcement section, paid us a visit.
- Beil's stop here was at News Editor Cynthia Tank's desk.
The news desk is in charge of many things, including getting the lottery
results in the paper.
- "What's up" must have been his first inquiry.
Lucky he didn't run into me first. I would have grinned and said, "Hey,
I know people who know people."
- Tank, however, came clean. Here's what happened: The
Columbian's computers crashed Wednesday and we had to scramble to re-create
a news page that had been lost. It happened to be the page that had the
lottery results. A copy editor was assigned to go back and get the Oregon
Lottery numbers off the news wires. We were pushing deadline, and he had
to be quick.
- He spotted the Pick 4 numbers. Problem was, he grabbed
the Virginia Pick 4 numbers, not Oregon's. And miracle of miracles, Virginia's
Pick 4 numbers were the same exact numbers that Oregon was about to draw
- "We can laugh about it now," Hooper said. "Because
there's nothing wrong with our system." But he admits there were some
anxious moments. And exactly what are the odds of hitting the Pick 4?
- "Well, it's 10,000 to 1," he said. And the
odds of us crashing our computers, picking the Virginia lottery numbers
by mistake and having those numbers be the same numbers you would draw
the next day?
- "A gazillion to one." _____
- Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's managing editor. He
can be reached at 360-759-8024, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- From Sam Smith 7-4-00
- Widely reported this morning: a Washington (state) newspaper
The Columbian printed the winning Pick4 numbers for the Oregon State Lottery
several hours before the numbers were actually drawn. This apparently occurred
yesterday (July 3).
- A subscriber reportedly noticed the time discrepancy,
and contacted the Lottery. They investigated and suppossedly found that
a harmless coincidence was the source of the "pre-printing" of
the winning numbers.
- Appearing at about 7:30 AM ET on the NBC program TODAY,
the Managing Editor of The Columbian explained that as the deadline for
the paper approached, a staff Editor went to "the wire" to obtain
the winning numbers. However, "their (The Columbian's) computer crashed"
at just that moment, and in trying to recover the information, the staff
Editor accidentally accessed and printed the winning numbers for the Virginia
State Lottery, believing they were the Oregon State Lottery numbers.
- And, by a coincidence described as "one in a ga-zillion"
by the Oregon State Lottery officials, the winning numbers for Oregon and
Virginia just happened to be the same that day--(6855, if I remember correctly).
- End of story--or so they would have you believe.
- I don't think so.
- This "explaination" just can't be right--even
if the numbers for Oregon and Virginia /were/ coincidentally the same on
- The heart of the matter is that the deadline for The
Columbian was obviously several hours before the drawing of the Oregon
Lottery, because the paper was on the streets with the "winning numbers"
in print several hours before the drawing.
- So how does a newspaper routinely access the correct
numbers "on the wire" several hours before they are physically
- It doesn't--unless the numbers have already been picked
several hours before the official drawing time. Which means that the winning
numbers are known to at least some persons in advance, and that is the
very essence of a fradulent lottery.
- So--if the Pick4 is fradulently drawn, what about all
the other Lottery drawings?
- Interestingly, the managing Editor commented during his
appearance that upon being contacted by the observant subscriber, the Oregon
State Lottery immediately went to "DefCon 4", and checked all
their firewalls and security systems to make sure that "this [in context
meaning an unautorized advance access of the winning numbers] couldn't
- Just the phrasing of that statement alone seems to imply
that an "authorized advance access" of the winning number CAN
- Sam Smith
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