Montreal Gazette - Playing with chance


Two lottery enthusiasts are suing Loto-Québec, arguing that the popular Extra feature isn't properly random.

The suit, which is seeking $40,000 in damages for the two lottery enthusiasts and $20 million in punitive damages, is being contested by the lottery corporation.

The legal challenge is just beginning to make its way through the justice system but it does raise provocative questions, especially concerning the randomness of the Extra numbers tendered to Loto-Québec consumers. Professor Louigi Addario-Berry of McGill's Department of Mathematics found the matter intriguing. Of interest was the lineup of the 10 Extra combinations generated by Loto-Québec.

"The odds of that happening with one ticket - the probability of no repeats in the first or last column - is something like one out of every 7.5 million tickets," Addario-Berry said. "Being able to find many tickets like that seems like overwhelming proof that the numbers aren't completely random and independent of one another."