Check-A-Ticket Lottery Scanners Lotteries have been hotly debated in many states with some claiming that the revenue is sorely need while others fear indebtedness and addiction.
However, on thing that is not debated is that the lottery brings in money. Over the last three decades, lottery administrators have attempted to develop cheaper, safer and more efficient ways to operate this billion dollar industry. In order to save money and to reduce the number of requests made of ticket vendor site employees, such as the employees at convenience stores, many lottery ticket retailers are offering customers the ability to find out if their ticket is a winner with check-a-ticket ticket scanning terminals.Many states have made use of these ticket scanning devices for the administration of state-run lotteries: Montana, California, Washington, Illinois, Texas, Missouri, New York Delaware and Kansas, to name a few.
The state lottery has already set up nearly 1,700 check-a-ticket stations in Washington where customers can check their tickets to see if they are winners. These stations promise to provide convenience to both retailers and consumers while also providing a way to save money for wholesalers (Washington’s Lottery, 2005).Each check-a-ticket terminal measures approximately 8 in. x 12 in.
x 4 in. and is connected through a cable to the full service terminal located somewhere in the retail outlet. Form there, the terminal communicates with the host terminal which is more centrally located off-site. None of the software on this terminal can be modified in any way from the site itself, so computer hackers cannot change the readouts or the scanning mechanism.
Messages displayed on the check-a-ticket terminal are delivered from the host terminal through the full-service terminal in the retail outlet (Washington’s Lottery, 2005).The check-a-ticket terminal does include a bar code reader like those found in grocery store and other retail stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and others. The reader scans the ticket when it is inserted into the housing and decodes the bar code. The data is sent through the full-service terminal to the host computer.
It is the host computer that processes the ticket and determines whether or not it is a winner. This information is returned along the same path to the check-a-ticket station (Washington’s Lottery, 2005).In addition to saving customers time and relieving the burden on the retail outlet employees, these ticket scanners also help prevent fraud. It helps catch individuals who alter tickets, reproduce tickets or try to cash tickets more than once (Lottery Validation, 1992).
Once a ticket is validated, an encrypted notation is placed on the ticket which keeps it from being resubmitted. In addition, these scanners can be used to tally the number of winning tickets, the location of the winners, and the distribution of funds. It makes this data much more accessible to lottery administrators and researchers (Desmond, 1989).However, with the benefits of this technology come some problems.
Many previous users of scanners have reported electronic glitches that have been costly. For example, on scanner at the University of Georgia failed to properly read athletic tickets and produced near hysteria as the NCAA football season began a couple of months ago (Quigley, 2006). These problems can occur with lottery scanners, but it is unlikely that the scanners will report incorrect messages. Most likely, the scanner will just fail to read at all, such as the case at the University of Georgia, forcing the customer to simply make use of the full service scanner in the same retail outlet.
The more likely problem scenario for check-a-ticket scanners involves human error, or human deception. When tickets are scanned, the amount of the prize is presented on the screen if the value of the winnings is less than $600. For values over $600, the message “see the retail clerk” is displayed on the screen. Different states have different procedures involving the readouts on the scanners.
Many people do not know that the higher dollar amounts are handled by retailers or even the state lottery boards themselves. In Kansas, a man was shown this message and proceeded to give his ticket to the clerk. The clerk told him he won $100 and gave him the cash. “However, the clerk’s behavior raised the ticket-holder’s suspicion, and the man asked for his ticket back so he could record the numbers.
The clerk said he had thrown the ticket away and couldn’t find it. After a few calls and a lottery office investigation, the ticket was retrieved and the buyer learned he had won $255,626. He has since received his money” (Albright, 2002). The clerk was arrested for theft.
The problem here was not on the part of the ticket scanner. The human error was two-fold; the buyer did not know how the scanner displayed information for prizes over $599, and the retail clerk engaged in criminal activity.Ed Van Petten, Kansas Lottery executive director, still insists the scanners are dependable ant trustworthy. It is the people that are responsible for the payouts that are not, and these people cannot be checked as often as the machines can said Monday that despite the trouble last month, the six-year-old scanners available to lottery players are dependable, although the people entrusted with making payouts can’t be monitored all the time (Albright, 2002).
Anyone purchasing a lottery ticket must understand how the prizes are awarded, the levels of prizes and their corresponding payout specifics, and to demand to be informed of each specific retailer’s procedures.Each individual state administers its own lottery. However, the scanners can be purchased from a wide variety of electronic vendors, which also supply similar scanners to grocery stores and other retail outlets, athletic events, and airlines and other transportation outlets. The Symbol Technologies Corporation of New York supplies ticket scanners to both the New York and California Lotteries (Lottery Validation, 1992).
These companies supply and service the scanning devices, but the information produced by the check-a-ticket scanners is run through the state lottery computer network, not through the supplying company. The supplying company and the state officials sign a contract which specifies the type and length of the service package.The best advice for lottery players is to know the rules of each state and to retain a non-winning ticket in case the retailer is deceptive. For the most part, lottery ticket scanners are safe and efficient, saving the state, the retailer, and even the customer both money and time.
Technology plays a big role in generating and producing lottery tickets; why not let it play a role in reading and recognizing winners? REFERENCESAlbright, A. (2002). Lottery’s Integrity Defended. The Topeka Capital-Journal.
January 1, Available from http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4179/is_20020101/ai_n11776050Desmond, P. (1989).
Innovative networks solve ‘scratch’ lottery problems. Network World 6 (20): 2-4Lottery validation on line in stores. (1992). Supermarket News 42 (44): 12.
Available from www.gale.comQuigley, R. (2006).
Broken scanner, lost file blamed in ticket fracas. Athens Banner-Herald, August 23. Available from http://onlineathens.com/stories/082306/uganews_20060823052.
shtmlWashington’s Lottery Current Business Processes Sale and Validation of On-Line Game Tickets. (2005). State of Washington. Available from: www.ga.wa.gov/pca/Ps2/32204- Lot/SaleValidationOnlineGameTickets.doc+check-aticket+lottery+scanners&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=5