Good Question: Problems with lotto machines

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Here’s a good question about the lottery. This is an interesting one about how the system works, from the time you buy a ticket to when you scan it to see if you’re lucky.

Steve asked: “Everyone plays the lottery and I was wondering how often do the little machines that check the bar codes on tickets get calibrated? Every time I go in the stores, those machines don’t read the ticket and I have to go up to the register. Should we trust these readers or should we just go up to the register and have them checked in the lottery machine that disperses tickets?”

The short answer, there’s no reason not to trust the readers. But if there’s an issue and your ticket isn’t getting a read on the scanner, go to the register.

Here’s what the state gaming commission told me:

“These readers are provided as a convenience and that the scanners used by store personnel provide definitive information on a ticket. The Lottery has over 14,000 Ticket checkers at retail locations statewide. In an average week, the Ticket checkers successfully scan over 8.5 million tickets. The Ticket Checkers do not require calibration.  In some cases issues may occur if the reader gets dirty, the barcode is unclear or if a power supply should go bad. If you are at a retailer location and experience an issue, please let your lottery retailer know so they can request a Service call.”

These readers don’t go unchecked, even without a call. Gaming officials say they try to make sure everything is working correctly and do preventive maintenance visits every six months or so.

If you have a good question that you want us to answer, email Brennan Somers at