Florida flirts with online lottery sales; Serbian Lottery conspiracy theories

TAGs: florida, Florida Lottery, Lottery, serbia

serbia-lottery-cockupThe Florida Lottery has asked prospective technology vendors to demonstrate that they are capable of conducting business over the internet.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported obtaining bid documents for the estimated $300m Lottery contract. Current vendor Gtech’s 10-year, $333m contract was supposed to expire this September but was recently extended to March 2017 or until a new vendor is chosen.

While the Lottery has yet to express any concrete intent to offer online sales of any form, it reportedly wants vendors to at least indicate that they have the capacity to sell tickets online, as well as via automatic teller machines (ATMs) and at gas station pumps. Spokeswoman Connie Barnes said the Lottery was only being thorough in considering “the full spectrum available technology being utilized in other states.”

There are currently only a handful of state lotteries plying their trade online, including Illinois, Georgia and Michigan. Some of these only offer online sales of draw tickets, while a daring few offer online instant-win scratch tickets, which critics have likened to slot machines. The Minnesota Lottery was the first to offer such groundbreaking products but the state’s luddite politicians torpedoed the online presence earlier this year.

At any rate, Florida Gov. Rick Scott can be counted on to veto any similar proposal that crosses his desk. Last year, Scott wrote federal politicians a letter expressing his support for legislation that would roll back the 2011 Department of Justice opinion that paved the way for state lotteries to take their action online. So the Florida Lottery’s online ambitions will likely remain theoretical for the foreseeable future.

In other lottery news, the director of Serbia’s national lottery has resigned following a technical cockup during a live televised lottery drawing. State Lottery Serbia was conducting its normal weekly draw on Tuesday night, but controversy swirled after the television graphics appeared to predict which numbered ball would be drawn before it happened.

In the video below, you can see that the fourth ball to emerge from the hopper is 27, yet the accompanying graphic shows the number 21. There’s a bit of a pause as the presenter isn’t sure how to proceed, but they move on, and the next ball drawn is number 21. Cue massive outrage from Serbian conspiracy theorists, who suspect the whole event was rigged and the TV graphics guy simply missed his cue (probably after spotting a Sasquatch fighting the Loch Ness Monster near a grassy knoll).

Lottery director Aleksandar Vulovic – a political appointee – has since resigned “on moral grounds” while maintaining that there was nothing planned or improper about the cockup. But police are questioning half a dozen individuals and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic warned that “the path to prison is very short” for anyone who can be proven to have engaged in any criminal activity.


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