With the Mega Millions lottery machine malfunctioning last Friday night and the draw having being postponed by 30 minutes, we decided to take a closer look at what goes on behind the scenes at a lottery draw.
An onscreen live lotto draw has a whole lot of glitz, glamour and don’t forget the suspense, but before any of this can take place there’s a lot of methodical preparation that goes on before, during and after the draw.
Let’s have a closer look at the various lotteries and the draw machines they use, tight security and the procedures set in place to make sure that everything’s fair and random.
Lottery Draw Machines
If there’s one part of the lottery that needs to be 100% it’s the lottery draw machine. Being the crux of every draw it’s crucial that the various lotteries around the world invest in lotto machines that will kick out the most random outcome possible.
It for this reason that these lotto machines can cost a bomb – up to $55,000 each.
As lottery players, you have all at some point seen a lottery machine and realised that they come in different shapes and sizes, but generally speaking there are two types of mechanical lottery machines – gravity-pick and air-mix machines.
Gravity Pick Machine
The gravity pick lotto machine is by far the most commonly used lottery machine. The biggest international lotteries like the Mega Millions, Powerball, Canada Lotto 649, UK National Lottery and EuroMillions all prefer using this lottery machine as it is seen to be the most fair and secure.
The gravity pick lotto machine as a drum with spinning paddles that rotate in opposite directions. The balls are then dropped into a chamber where these two paddles spin in opposite directions and mixing the balls.
The balls are always visible during the mixing and drawing process as the tubes are transparent. This helps prevent tampering; and since the drawings are televised live, it gives the viewer confidence that the drawing is not being fixed.
Once the paddles have mixed the balls for the require amount of time, the required number of balls pass out of the bottom of the drum, one at a time. There is an optical sensor that tracks each ball that passes through, allowing only the right number of balls to be released.
Air-Mix Lotto Machine
Another version of the lotto machine is the air-mix lotto machine. Instead of having rubber balls the air-mix version uses numbered ping-pong balls.
The ping-pong balls are inserted into the chamber and whirled around the drum by jets of air from a fan that is located at the bottom of the drum.
To make things precise, all the ping-pong balls are measured to ensure that they are all equal in weight and size. With the fan blowing upwards, the balls the winning lottery balls shoot up and out of the chamber through a tube, ending up in a display tray. As you can in the image, at no point in time are the winning lottery balls hidden from view.
This type of lotto machine is used in the EuroJackpot and the Italian SuperEnaLotto game.
Mega Millions Security
Let’s start off with the Mega Millions lottery. One of the most important aspects of a lottery draw is security. Those in charge of the Mega Millions security at the WSB-TV studio, which is located in Atlanta, Georgia, will be the first to say that each and every draw has the most beefed up security process. The lottery machines and the ball sets are stored in a secured location, and can be accessed only by approved draw officials. The machines are chosen at random and the selection is verified by external auditors. This is to confirm, according to the chosen machine and balls, that each number has the same odds of being drawn.
The Mega Millions lottery uses not one but two separate lotto machines for every draw. The first lotto machine selects the main numbers and the second selects the Mega Ball.
Security test both lotto machines and ball sets to ensure 100% randomness of the draw. Once the draw has taken place, further tests are conducted as a part of the verification procedure. These tests are administered by two Mega Millions draw officials as well as one person from a third-party auditor. Over and above all of this, the entire process is also videotaped from start to finish.
Just like the Mega Millions, which uses the gravity pick lotto machine, the US Powerball lotto game also uses two gravity picking lotto machines per draw. One for the white main numbers and one for the red Power ball.
About the balls
The balls used in the gravity pick lotto machine are made up of solid rubber and weigh precisely 80g each. They cost $60 per ball which will have a lifetime of approximately 2-3 years before they will need replacing. As part of the tests done for every draw, the balls are weighed to ensure that there is negligible weight difference.
The UK National Lottery
When thinking about the UK Lottery, we immediately think of the UK Lotto machines each boasting their very own names. This all starts with UK National Lottery Operator, Camelot. So it’s no surprise that the theme is carried forth with six lotto machines called Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, Vyvyan and Galahad.
On Saturday 30 November 1996, lotto machine Guinevere, broke down just before the draw was scheduled to take place. The draw was delayed for 50 minutes while the problem was sorted out.
Just like all other international lotto games, the UK Lottery draws are also montitored by an independent auditor. The draw also has a Draw Manager who is employed by Camelot and is responsible for the start of the draw. They make sure that the draw runs without any hiccups. Joining the team are the National Lottery Compliance team who need to be present at a minimum of one Wednesday, one Friday and one Saturday draw each quarter. Over and above all this they also have the National Measurement Office that tests each ball set and draw machine on a regular basis.
After each draw the lotto machines are sealed and stored in a secure area and access to the equipment is extremely restricted.
Before every draw the seals are examined to make sure that they have not been tampered with. Also taking place before every draw, is the selection of a ball set and a lotto machine which will be used during the live draw. These are selected from shuffled envelopes containing the various options. It’s like a little lottery before the lottery.
As you can see, it’s not all fun and games when it comes down to making sure the each and every lottery ticket holder has the same chance of winning the lottery.
So while all you need to do is select your lucky lotto numbers, sit back and wait for results, lottery officials are taking things very seriously.
Here at PlayHugeLottos.com we too make sure that online lottery players are not only able to participate in the world’s biggest and best lotto games, but that you have the best player experience available.
Best of luck!
The PlayHugeLottos.com Team