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The Technology That Runs Lotto Nigeria

Posted by By Tayo Ajakaye on 2005/07/01 | Views: 3998 |

The Technology That Runs Lotto Nigeria


It prides itself as Nigeria’s first truly on-line national lottery. It says it has deployed state-of-the-art lottery terminals to more than 1100 retail outlets in Nigeria and is making tremendous progress in deploying another set of 1300 in some other 21 states across the federation.

It prides itself as Nigeria’s first truly on-line national lottery. It says it has deployed state-of-the-art lottery terminals to more than 1100 retail outlets in Nigeria and is making tremendous progress in deploying another set of 1300 in some other 21 states across the federation.

It says it remains ‘without doubt,’ the most futuristic, largest and dispersed Private network in Nigeria and West Africa as a whole. Welcome to the technology world of Lotto Nigeria.

Truth is, world over, online lotteries are replacing paper lotteries. It employs electronic communication in its operations. Online lottery is based on the communication between a client which is a lottery terminal and the hub, which is a lottery gaming system. It is generally regarded as more convenient and more efficient.

Availability of terminals:
Terminals, rather than kiosks are very essential in today’s online lottery. The terminals don’t have to have special shelters. They could be placed in supermarkets, filling stations, phone shops, even photo studios. According to the Chief Technical officer of NSL MC, Mr. Charles Ogunmola, NSL MC, the company that runs Lotto Nigeria, "these terminals are in nine cities, already has 1100 terminals in nine cities. The nine cities being Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Benin, Port Harcourt, Aba, Onitsha, Enugu, Asaba. These terminals are located in high retail stores, where they are easily reached.

Having 1100 terminals and gunning for another 1300 is only part of the requirements of a truly online lottery. In India, Fortuno Entertainment, a member of Videocon Group in Pradesh deployed about 8,500 terminals in the first instance. The bigger challenge is how efficiently the network runs.

That is why each retailer has, to back his terminal, VSAT equipment including a 1.2m dish, UPS, surge protector and the like.

The Technology
The NSL MC has the central lottery system is Stockholm. Each lottery terminal is connected to this host in Sweden. The connection itself is achieved with an admixture of VSAT and satellite connections which not just ensures but also guarantees a seamless connection that sends and receives data in four seconds maximum.

Ogunmola explains that each lottery transaction that is fed into the terminal undergoes extensive encryption and travels from the terminal, across the network to Sweden. When it gets to Sweden, it is de-encrypted, captured, validated for authenticity, processed and allocated a unique 26-character ID before it is re-encrypted and returned to the terminal from which it originated where it produces a unique ticket. This whole process takes between three to four seconds. The player then takes the ticket and the coupon with him to await the announcement of results Saturday evening.

Assuring that the company has a solid network in place, Ogunmola stated that the network is built in a Star network architecture topology and is based on the Hughes Network Systems (HNS) ISBN hub technology. The network enables each lottery terminal to communicate with the central lottery system in Sweden via the hub in Lagos.

The way it works, each lottery terminal is connected to the hub via the HNS Personal Earth Station 5000 indoor unit which seamlessly supports both serial and data cable connections. Just one serial port is being utilised at the moment. The three remaining ports and a data jack (RJ45) are still lying idle.

The Security of the System
Commenting on the security of the system, Ogunmola said insisted the levels of encryption for each lottery transaction go beyond the norm and that it is widely agreed that even if someone could hack into the network, it would take the average technical intellect the best part of a year to break the encryption code. And given the fact that the active life of a lottery transaction is just seven days, from the sale to draw date, it would be foolish for any to attempt such.

But it is a bit more complex than that.
For Each transaction that is generated by a terminal, there is a process of encryption that happens before the transaction is sent to the host. That process of encryption has close to 13 Gigabyte and it uses 7 Algorithms. A normal intellectual mind could take up to nine to 12 months to break that code because of its complexity. But since the lottery transaction is just seven days, he would have to start afresh each new week to try the impossible. "That process is totally hacker-proof. This actually removes the rationale for you to hack. It removes the possibility for you to hack," the NSL CTO stressed.

What’s more, the network is a private network. It doesn’t run on the public or any third party network.
That also means that the company can more or less can monitor to a large extent the development of and management of its network.

The Back-up for the System
What would a server which is down do to this system which has been described in the best of superlatives? The possibility of the network going down is highly unlikely, so says Ogunmola. Reason is, although the VSAT technology is subject to the vagaries of weather condition, on the hub and out on the SEPC link the company has put in place double amplification. For the 1000 remote to the hub, it has double amplification on the KU- band. For SEPC link down to Stockholm, it uses the C-Band, which is more tolerant of weather conditions.

"Everything apart from the vagaries of weather boils down to efficiency. We have full control end-to-end. We can monitor each terminal right here from our premise. We can monitor the links that take the terminals to the hub. We can monitor the hub’s connectivity via C-band to Stockholm. We can monitor the processing and revalidating on the Stockholm Central gaming system. We can also monitor payouts. We know at any point in time which retailers are selling, how much they have sold, how much they have paid out, etc." Certainly there are so many things the company can monitor!

The NSL Lotteries Management Company has a technical partnership agreement with Tattsnet, a joint venture between Sweden's Essnet and Australia's Tattersalls.
But that is just the first part of the expertise. The other part is provided by the local personnel here. Each one of them is said to have excelled in a field outside of lottery before they were brought in and were extensively for three to four months on lottery-specific knowledge. This is to enable that the lottery network and the operating system is up 24/7, 365 days a year.

For back-up, there are two redundant options. For each link to Stockholm, there is one SEPC link. There is another link through Copenhagen and also through SAT 3. So if the SEPC doesn’t work, the connectivity could go through Copenhagen, via Ku-band, and leased line into Stockholm. Or if the two links are down, then it could go via SAT 3, via leased line through Stockholm as well. In Stockholm itself, the central systems are located 80 meters apart. They are powered from two separate electrical sources. If there is a disaster in Lagos, Ogunmola assured, there are two separate places he could move into to continue operations. There will be no break. Nobody will ever notice. "We built it robustly. It is scalable. It is a model we can only evolve to perfection and transpose elsewhere," he stated.

Could it Be More Online?
Surely for an online lottery, a player should be able to use a debit card to play without getting to visit the retailers?

Ogunmola said for now the answer is no. He adds however, "But I would say tomorrow, yes. We are working on the mobile option to enable the process of lottery transaction on GSM mobile. We are actively looking a portable option - that is for the retailer to have a terminal that can go up to 150 meters away from the base station and walk around and sell. We are actively looking at and progressing on Internet; that would be based on prepay voucher with which you will go on Internet and play the lottery. All these are on the pipeline at the moment, I can’t give you the timeline."

Really, that is what online gaming is coming to. A number of bills are passing through legislative houses in a number of US states seeking to enable players play from the confines of their rooms. Players would be able to buy tickets online and pay with their debit cards. They could also establish an account that would draw down as they buy tickets.
But the question has been asked and again, how far can online lottery go?

It may be difficult for lottery to go fully online like banking or other forms of ticketing. Surely, different state laws could hinder the online nature of the game. In some states in US for instance, non-participating states forbids that a player buys a ticket from the other state and bring it home. Again, some websites like Buy Powerball Online and PlayLot said you could play anywhere in the world. As the theory goes, you could purchase a ticket from the Web site. Then the site in turn purchases a lottery ticket from a state-licensed retailer. He holds and monitors the ticket for you. He charges you a token amount for this service. If you win a small sum, the site mails you a cheque for your win. If you win the jackpot, arrangements are made for you to pick up the winning ticket and claim your prize.

But there are other limitations of online lottery. As some experts have pointed out, these sites are unregulated. There is no way to hold them if they refuse to remit a winner’s winnings.

Again, online lottery remains one area that some countries would not liberalised. The US’ Federal Trade Commission, for instance says it is illegal to buy or sell foreign lottery tickets through the mail, telephone or the Internet in the United States.

So then, there is a limit how much online a lottery can be. For Nigeria, it may just be as NSL has defined it at present. This is because for now, the technology ‘level’ of Lotto Nigeria may be the only one that has really change, visibly that is.

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Comments (24)

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ur so boring(To, Northern Territory, Australia)says...

have u ever thought the garbage or the toilet might be jealous? Ur so full of shiz- white piece of shiz BET lol. That's where ppl like you belong (toilet garbage etc), ik the truth hurts but dont take it as an insult im just trying to describe you; ik im good at it ty-The truth hurts right. JSYK black ppl aren't nerds were just smarter than you oops Btw BLMM!!!

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ur so boring(To, Northern Territory, Australia)says...

@robloxian

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emilia(Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)says...

Wow,trying to get across to Ekene jnr he happens to be my old friend,lost his contact.any info would do me good

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Valarie(Nairobi, Kenya)says...

What’s your point?

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robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

hahahaha u r a wierdo…hehehe

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New
ur so boring(To, Northern Territory, Australia)says...

have u ever thought the garbage or the toilet might be jealous? Ur so full of shiz- white piece of shiz BET lol. That's where ppl like you belong (toilet garbage etc), ik the truth hurts but dont take it as an insult im just trying to describe you; ik im good at it ty-The truth hurts right. JSYK black ppl aren't nerds were just smarter than you oops Btw BLMM!!!

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New
robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

wow so bad.