# Thread: Randomness of the Lottery

1. ## Randomness of the Lottery

Do you believe the lottery is completely random?

I personally don't. Computer-based ones in Vegas have already been proven to not be random (obviously, they are generated by a programmed computer), but with regard to ball-based ones like Powerball, Mega Millions, etc, I don't think they are completely random either. They are still run by machines (which are going to inherently be less likely to be random--though I actually believe nothing is totally and completely random), certain balls are going to be more likely to be closer to the sucking mechanism that makes them be chosen at certain given times, certain balls are going to be more likely to be nearer to other balls, and certain balls may weigh the slightest bit different from other balls (given the amount of ink used on that ball to print the numbers on it). Random enough to be pretty darn close to impossible to predict, yes, but completely random as they claim to be, no.

2. Well, actually, from the way you seem to be stating the problem, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that nothing is truly random. I think that whenever one speaks of "random", tends to intend something that:
- is inherently unpredictable by today's technological standards
- each state of the world is equally likely in a ex-ante probabilistic evaluation

3. For the purposes of a lottery, unless the slight non-randomness can be predicted or controlled, it's kind of a moot point. Unless someone can unfairly benefit, it's as good as random.

4. Originally Posted by FDG
Well, actually, from the way you seem to be stating the problem, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that nothing is truly random. I think that whenever one speaks of "random", tends to intend something that:
- is inherently unpredictable by today's technological standards
- each state of the world is equally likely in a ex-ante probabilistic evaluation
Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou
For the purposes of a lottery, unless the slight non-randomness can be predicted or controlled, it's kind of a moot point. Unless someone can unfairly benefit, it's as good as random.
You both make really good points and both said "unless it can be predicted or controlled" or "inherently unpredictable by today's standards"... but... some guy actually did predict Mega Millions numbers (not perfectly, but based on his "system" he *could* have realistically won the entire jackpot, rather than 10 second prizes). Sooo... the randomness of it is pretty shady. Though, only to a degree because the guy had been playing this system for a good part of his life, it seems, so when you compare the number of losses he probably had with the one instance of multiple second prize win... it's still pretty darn unpredictable by most standards. LOL forgive my rambling... I'm not really sure where I'm going with this thread

5. Originally Posted by fleurdujour
Do you believe the lottery is completely random?

I personally don't. Computer-based ones in Vegas have already been proven to not be random (obviously, they are generated by a programmed computer), but with regard to ball-based ones like Powerball, Mega Millions, etc, I don't think they are completely random either. They are still run by machines (which are going to inherently be less likely to be random--though I actually believe nothing is totally and completely random), certain balls are going to be more likely to be closer to the sucking mechanism that makes them be chosen at certain given times, certain balls are going to be more likely to be nearer to other balls, and certain balls may weigh the slightest bit different from other balls (given the amount of ink used on that ball to print the numbers on it). Random enough to be pretty darn close to impossible to predict, yes, but completely random as they claim to be, no.
There's no such thing as completely random.

But they do test their random number generators. The can run them like 10 billion times and check whether each number comes up with equal probability. Random number generators are as close to random as you could possibly expect to get.

It would be MORE work to make it less random. And, if it was less random, someone out there would pick up on it (they could just write down the lotto numbers every day...I'm sure you could even find it on the internet). If they picked up on it, they could take advantage of the system.

The lottery has nothing to gain by making it less random.

6. Originally Posted by evan
There's no such thing as completely random.

But they do test their random number generators. The can run them like 10 billion times and check whether each number comes up with equal probability. Random number generators are as close to random as you could possibly expect to get.

It would be MORE work to make it less random. And, if it was less random, someone out there would pick up on it (they could just write down the lotto numbers every day...I'm sure you could even find it on the internet). If they picked up on it, they could take advantage of the system.

The lottery has nothing to gain by making it less random.
I found interesting the way the website RANDOM.ORG - True Random Number Service generates its random numbers from atmospheric noise, which should be the phenomena closest to a white noise.

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