High-Tech Security Stands Guard Over Arkansas Scholarship Lottery

by George Waldon  on Monday, Sep. 28, 2009 12:00 am  

Lance Huey, left, director of security for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, and Remmele Mazyck, deputy security director, watch over the launch of the state's first four games.

Some people were baffled to see the Arkansas Lottery Commission crank up the publicity machine and shine the spotlight on its west Little Rock distribution center.

Inviting the media to see officials break the seal on the first truckload of scratch-off tickets arriving on Sept. 14 from the Scientific Games International plant in Alpharetta, Ga., was a good promo opportunity.

But some wondered if the event wasn't a major breach in security protocol and questioned the wisdom of revealing the exact location of 26 million lottery tickets, conceivably worth $48 million in potential winnings.

"More than one person asked me, 'Isn't that kind of stupid to tell everyone where the tickets are stored?'" said Lance Huey, director of security for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. "The answer is no. If you break in and steal anything, it's just a bunch of worthless paper. The tickets have no value at all."

Thanks to the wonders of high-tech wizardry, a lottery ticket in the warehouse is only so much glossy wood pulp until its status is changed after passing through multiple security scans.

If someone tries to cash in a stolen ticket, a required scan will recognize the "winner" as a rogue and won't allow it to clear security.

The system also will trigger an alert at the lottery's downtown Little Rock data center informing Huey's office that someone at a specific location is trying to redeem a suspect ticket. The security staff also receives an automatic Blackberry alert on the situation.

The same scenario will thwart criminals with aspirations of hijacking a lottery truck or doing a smash-and-grab at a convenience store selling tickets. Huey said a stolen lottery ticket will leave a "Hansel and Gretel trail" for investigators to track and follow.

Lottery tickets can have up to 21 layers of specialized coatings and inks, including a layer that gives the cards fingerprint-like identities.

"We think if it's like other states, a thief will steal everything but a lottery ticket," he said.

'System Security'

Huey leads a five-member staff that coordinates background checks on lottery personnel and retailers, checks in lottery ticket shipments, oversees security at lottery facilities, investigates lottery complaints and works with local law enforcement personnel on lottery-related crime.

"People think this is physical security, but it's really system security," he said.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.