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ACCC doesn’t like lottery predictions

September 20th, 2009 at 06:52am

The Australian Competition and Consumer Comission has won the first legal battle against, which claimed to be able to predict the Powerball numbers in a way which expands on a theory I have had for some time.

A SYDNEY company promising a guaranteed win at Powerball has had its assets frozen by court order following legal action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Pty Ltd offered a “100 per cent guarantee” to provide the correct Powerball number and help subscribers choose the next five numbers, Federal Court documents show.

The company claimed its system was based on “mathematics, statistics, computer modelling and the complex study of the theory of random probability”, court documents said.

However, the ACCC this week won a court injunction against the company and four men, suspending the scheme and freezing their bank accounts until a further hearing tomorrow.

The promoters disputed the theory that lottery balls fell in random patterns and promised subscribers a system to help them win “all divisions of Powerball”, court documents said.
However, the ACCC said in court documents the promoters did not have insider information, and were engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.
One of the company’s ads included in the [ACCC] application stated: “Win Powerball this Thursday! The first Australian Powerball draw was conducted at 8.28pm on May 23, 1996. After analysing each number drawn excluding the Powerball number since its introduction, we have made an amazing discovery that disputes the theory of random probability and has totally shocked experts.”

I have disputed for a long time the notion that lottery numbers are drawn in a purely random manner for the simple reason that, for this to be true, the balls would all need to weigh exactly the same amount, have the exact same shape (including surface area covered by numbers) and receive an equal amount of the air being pumped in to the lottery machine.

Predicting lottery numbers accurately is, in my view, a simple (OK, simple might not be the right word) matter of knowing the original position of each ball, knowing the precise characteristics of each ball and the machine being used, knowing the characteristics of the air being pumped in to the machine, and then putting it all together with some physics modelling.

That said, knowing all of this information is more-or-less impossible, and knowing it far enough in advance to run a simulation which can predict the lotto numbers is even less likely. Knowing a subset of the information and making a “close enough” prediction is much more likely (and is similar to predicting the weather). I suspect that this lottery prediction service, if the people behind it are being honest, has monitored enough Powerball draws to gather a significant subset of the information.

If they are on the level, then they should have a high enough accuracy rate to prove their case in court…and if they’re feeling generous they might even give the ACCC a complimentary prediction so that the ACCC can cover the court costs without burdening taxpayers.

One thing about this court case will be very interesting though…if the lottery prediction service is legitimate, then it will be interesting to see how much of their research and formula ends up in public court documents. If enough of it is made public, then the business model will be void, as anybody would be able to predict the numbers for themself without the aid of the lottery prediction business. If that happens, you can expect the ACCC to be sued for destroying the business, and quite possibly for the value of every Powerball jackpot in the next decade or three.


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