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Ball Draw vs. RNG

July 1, 2019

It wasn’t too long ago that Ontarians gathered around the TV to watch the lottery draw each Saturday night. For 30 minutes in the evening, they sat in silence as the numbered balls blew around the machine, waiting for the next number to drop.

Today, while families may still gather, they’re more likely to be watching their own programming on individual devices. But that’s what happens when we introduce new technologies. We don’t necessarily change what we do, we simply change how we do it.

Dropping the ball

Until recently, every OLG lottery draw was performed using the ball draw method. Here’s how it works: a large drum is filled with numbered balls, which are blown around at random using compressed air. When it’s time to select a ball, a valve is opened and the next one blown down the tube becomes one of the official winning numbers. To ensure the draw is random, the balls are weighted evenly and locked away when not in use, to prevent tampering.

Introducing the RNG

While OLG still performs ball draws for regional games such as LOTTARIO, ONTARIO 49, DAILY KENO, POKER LOTTO, MEGADICE, ENCORE, PICK-2, PICK-3 and PICK-4, a more modern and simplified method was recently introduced for national draws, including LOTTO MAX, LOTTO 6/49 and DAILY GRAND. Instead of using the ball draw method, the Random Number Generator (RNG) software generates random numbers using computer code.

Every draw—regardless of the method— is overseen and audited both by OLG and independent third-party experts to ensure its integrity.

Did you know? May 3, 2019 was the last time the ball draw method was used to draw the winning LOTTO MAX number. The $50 million jackpot was split 20 ways by a group living in and around Montreal. That win was followed up a week later with the first LOTTO MAX draw by random number generating software on May 10, 2019.

For LOTTO 6/49, the final jackpot to be drawn by ball draw was won by someone from Surrey, B.C., in the April 27, 2019 draw. He is now $7 million richer.

Is one method better than the other?

Unless you’re particularly fond of compressed air, there’s no advantage to one over the other.  The fact is, lottery odds don’t change no matter how the numbers are drawn. The move to the RNG software is simply a way for OLG to continue to provide the best possible entertainment experience for players, and that includes implementing new and exciting technologies along the way.

Learn more about the lottery.