Disturbing Evidence Lotterys
Are Rigged In Advance
By Lou Brancaccio
Managing Editor - The Columbian
What would happen if, crazy as it might sound, a newspaper published the correct numbers of a lottery É before the numbers were drawn?
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 that day.
"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
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 July 3.
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 drawn?
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 happen".
Just the phrasing of that statement alone seems to imply that an "authorized advance access" of the winning number CAN happen!
Sam Smith
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