Maryland Lottery drawing official Jared Michael Swain announces the Pick 5 numbers during a drawing Sunday. Screenshot via Maryland Lottery YouTube.

The days are numbered for those iconic Maryland Lottery balls.

Starting Dec. 19, instead of state lottery officials picking numbered balls, they will use a computerized random number generator to conduct the drawings for Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5, Bonus Match 5, and Multi-Match games, the Maryland Lottery announced Monday.

Also beginning that day, Maryland Lottery drawings will not be televised. Instead, animated videos of the drawings will be available on the agency’s website. Winning numbers will be published on the website and on their mobile app. Players can also call into the Winning Numbers phone line at 410-230-8830.

The Maryland Lottery, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, is “embracing the future” with these changes, the gaming agency said in a news release.

“Lottery balls and machines have been part of the Maryland Lottery’s history, but it’s important for us to modernize as we look forward to the next 50 years and beyond,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said in a statement. “More than 30 other lotteries in the U.S. and Canada have shifted to RNG systems because they are efficient, cost-effective — and most importantly they are extremely secure.”

The shift to drawings using the random number generator system will not impact three multi-state games that can be played in Maryland: Cash4Life, Mega Millions and Powerball, which are conducted by state lotteries in New Jersey, Georgia, and Florida, respectively. Those games will continue to use numbered balls and mechanical drawing machines, Maryland Lottery officials said.

New Jersey-based company Smartplay International Lottery Systems created the random number generator that the Maryland Lottery will use in its drawings, as well as other similar systems used for lotteries worldwide, according to the Maryland Lottery.

Gaming Laboratories International has tested and verified Smartplay’s random number generator.

Maryland Lottery officials assured players of the new system’s integrity.

According to state lottery officials, Smartplay’s random number generator system is not connected to the internet. Two drawing officials, each with their own electronic access card, must be present to open the door to the secure room where the random number generator system is housed under 24-7 video surveillance.

Officials added that the cabinet that contains the random number generator is also double-locked and requires two drawing officials with separate keys to open it. If the seal to the hardware and software within the cabinet is broken, the system is inoperable.

The Maryland Lottery has used similar random number generator systems “for decades,” agency officials said, to randomly generate numbers for quick-pick tickets, Racetrax, and Keno.

“From our players’ perspective, nothing in the way the games are played is changing,” Martin said. “We still have the same games with the same prize structures, drawn at the same times each day. And as always, the outcomes are purely the result of random chance.”

Avatar photo

Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at

9 replies on “Maryland Lottery to end use of numbered balls, televised drawings; agency will shift to random number generator system”

  1. That’s stupid..Electric can be rigged🙄 the balls are better!!! Don’t TRY to fix what isn’t broken! Except for being lazy..

    1. Have been playing since the 80s My Dad was a mathematician. Random , air driven, ball # systems are much better and are TRUE random systems as he claimed. We as buyers are now at the will of the states rules. THIS IS BULLSHIT!

  2. Of course it won’t be random…computer will pick what ever numbers are the least amount of payout for the state

  3. Computerized random numbers are pseudorandom numbers and they have pretty much very high probability of getting repeated again and again since they follow a certain algorithm behind the scenes.

  4. Have been playing since the 80s My Dad was a mathematician. Random , air driven, ball # systems are much better and are TRUE random systems as he claimed. We as buyers are now at the will of the states rules. THIS IS BULLSHIT!

  5. I never was asked or agreed to this change at any level of voting during the last vote I made . MD lotto did not at any time warn users of this change. Really underhanded at least. We need to try at least to find out how this happened without public input.

Comments are closed.