8

Let's set aside the argument that computers have a pseudo-random number generator.

I'm interested in knowing if a lottery terminal generates each quick pick independently from all previous picks and draws each from an identical uniform distribution.

Why I'm doubtful of the above claim.

A colleague of mine relayed a story (I don't know his source) where he said that the lotteries are more interested in having multiple winners for a given jackpot prize than a single winner because it creates more publicity. So, people who ask for a quick pick are more likely to get numbers that were already picked.

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    Do you mind being even more specific? "In the United States, lotteries are run by 47 jurisdictions: 44 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the US, lotteries are subject to the laws of each jurisdiction; there is no national lottery." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotteries_in_the_United_States – Oddthinking Jan 6 '14 at 23:04
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    Except for knowing the exact algorithm used to generate quick picks, I'm not sure how you could (realistically) prove or disprove your colleague's theory. However, if it were true, it would decrease the chances of there being a winner in the first place, as there would be less total combinations in play. Furthermore, the greater the number of quick picks that are intentionally "grouped", the less likely it is for a Quick Pick to actually win the jackpot. So, if the goal is to have multiple winners, I don't think grouping the quick picks necessarily helps accomplish that. Finally, if you approa – TTT Jan 7 '14 at 2:48
  • @TTT: if you have the data of how many people won each prize level each week and how many were quick picks, you could check the distribution followed Poisson without viewing the exact algorithm. – Oddthinking Jan 7 '14 at 4:30
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    Is there a claim that Quick Picks are truly random (as opposed to generated by a cryptographic quality PRNG; or even a weaker PRNG)? Fankly, real randomness is demanding and expensive, while high quality pseudo-randomness is (relatively) cheap and easy. – dmckee Jan 7 '14 at 5:14
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    @dmckee: Covered by the first line. I am hoping we can avoid being distracted by the "pseudo" issue; it doesn't appear to be relevant. – Oddthinking Jan 7 '14 at 6:21

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