Texas lottery balls weighed often for accuracy and fair drawings

GIDDINGS, Texas (KXAN) — To ensure that everyone’s chances of winning the lottery are completely fair, the Texas Department of Agriculture inspects lottery balls for the Texas Lottery Commission several times a year. Everything from climate, to the location of the lab, to the material of the weighing table is controlled so that each lottery ball is inspected accurately.

State Metrologist Dan Gibbons has weighed and inspected thousands of lottery balls over the last few years. On Tuesday, Gibbons measured a total of 80 lottery balls.

“It’s a very intricate process,” said Gibbons. “First, we break the seal of one of the box sets. Then we fill out the date, time of opening, why I’m opening it, and the seal number.”

Gibbons is required to wear latex gloves and handle each ball with extreme care, making sure nothing is dropped or comes in contact with other surfaces.

“We want to make sure that nothing is getting on the balls of any kind…dust, oils, anything that can affect the weights,” said Scott Hiles, drawings coordinator at the Texas Lottery Commission.

Each ball only weighs about half a gram, and every little bit matters. The lottery balls can only have a .095 gram variance from others in the same set because a heavier ball could mean a higher chance of it being drawn.

“We want to eliminate all possible factors, climate controlled and locked away. We know that cleaning them is the best way to do it, just so there’s no question about it,” said Hiles. He adds that the slight residue left from touching or moving the balls can affect the acceptable variance.

Although the Texas Lottery Commission has an office downtown on E. 6th St., the weighing is done at the state’s isolated metrology lab in Giddings, because even outside traffic can affect the accuracy of the weight.

“This table with all the weighing equipment is a 900-lb chunk of marble, and it keeps down the vibrations. You can tap on it and it wont affect the weight readings at all. Even the floor is static-free so that it doesn’t affect the comparator,” explains Gibbons.

Lottery balls that are too heavy to use for the drawings are retired, instead of being thrown away, or donated.

“They’re assets, state assets, so they have to be counted for,” said Hiles. “One day they’ll figure out what to do with the thousands of balls we have, but right now, they haven’t.”

The Texas Lottery has more than 80 drawings every week. Lotto Texas and the Texas Two Step draw twice a week. The Cash Five draws once daily Monday through Saturday. And the Pick 3, Daily Four, and All or Nothing games draw four times a day – every day except Sunday.

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