US 20090065574 A9
Security can be provided for lottery tickets having data printed thereon in a bar code or other machine readable media by covering only a portion of the bar code with a scratch-off material. Removing the scratch-off material, or in some cases only a portion of the scratch-off material, can permit machine validation of the lottery tickets. For bar codes having a specified level of redundancy, it is desirable to cover at least enough of the bar code to prevent the machine reading of ticket validation data encoded in the bar code. Also, a lottery ticket can include a bar code printed on the ticket having both inventory and validation data along with a bar code printed on the front of the ticket including the validation data. All or part of the bar code printed on the front of the ticket can be covered by a scratch-off material. Also, the validation and redemption process can be expedited by having a player ticket checker read a ticket identifier printed on the lottery ticket so that this information can be checked and automatically entered in an agent terminal.
42. A an instant lottery ticket method utilizing a lottery ticket having first and second sides comprising the steps of:
printing play indicia on the first side of the lottery ticket;
covering at least a portion of said play indicia with a first scratch-off coating;
printing a first bar code containing at least a first element of information related to said play indicia;
covering at least a portion of said first bar code with a second scratch-off coating;
printing a second bar code on said lottery ticket containing a second element of information related to said play indicia;
removing at least a portion of said first scratch-off coating;
removing at least a portion of said second scratch-off coating;
utilizing a bar code reader to read said first and said second bar codes; and
validating the lottery ticket using both said first and second elements of information wherein both said first and second elements along with removal of at least a portion of the second scratch-off coating are required to validate the lottery ticket.
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55. A method for validating an instant lottery ticket having a ticket identifier printed in both a barcode and in human readable form where at least a portion of the bar code is covered with a scratch-off coating comprising the steps of:
removing at least a portion of the scratch-off coating;
utilizing a bar code reader operatively connected to an agent terminal to read the bar code;
if the bar code is successfully read by said bar code reader, utilizing an agent terminal to validate the lottery ticket using the ticket identifier;
if the bar code is not successfully read by said bar code reader, keying in the ticket identifier printed in human readable form to said agent terminal utilizing a keyboard operatively connected to said agent terminal; and
utilizing an agent terminal to validate the lottery ticket using the ticket identifier entered via said keyboard.
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60. A an instant lottery ticket method utilizing a lottery ticket comprising the steps of:
printing play indicia on the lottery ticket;
covering at least a portion of said play indicia with a first scratch-off coating;
printing a first bar code containing a first element of information related to said play indicia on the lottery ticket;
printing a win code in encrypted binary form on the lottery ticket;
removing at least a portion of said first scratch-off coating;
utilizing a first bar code reader operatively associated with an agent terminal to read said win code;
utilizing a second bar code reader operatively connected to said agent terminal to read said first bar code if from said win code it is determined that the lottery ticket is a winner; and
utilizing said agent terminal to validate the lottery ticket using said first element of information.
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This application is a continuation in part of application U.S. Ser. No. 10/274,886, filed Oct. 24, 2002.
This invention generally relates to lottery tickets and in particular to lottery ticket bar codes redemption methods.
It has become conventional for lottery tickets that have a scratch-off material covering play indicia printed on the ticket to also provide a bar code printed on the ticket for validation or authentication purposes. Typically, when a winning ticket is presented for payment, the bar code is read by a bar code reader located in a lottery agent terminal and a 3 or 4 digit security code, hidden under a latex or scratch-off coating, is entered manually by a clerk using a key pad on the terminal. The dual action of reading the bar code and entering the security code confirms that the ticket is indeed a winner prior to payment of the winning amount. Forcing the clerk to find and enter the security code gives both the player and the lottery administration the assurance that a retailer did not prescreen the ticket in an attempt to pick out winning tickets because finding the security code requires that some latex must be removed from the ticket. However, attempts have been made to defraud lotteries where the clerks pre-screen tickets for winners before they are sold by picking out the 3 or 4 digit code security code, guessing the 3 digit code or even pasting an entirely different bar code over the existing bar code on the lottery ticket.
One approach to overcoming the problem of prescreening of unsold tickets is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,053,405 where latex sensing capability is used to insure that that sufficient latex has been removed from the ticket prior to validation. Also, circuit elements are printed underneath the bar code in order to detect tampering with the bar code. Using this technique it is possible to print the bar code on the front or the back of the ticket, separate from the latex covering.
A second approach to overcoming this problem is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,308,991 where a scratch-off material is printed over the entire bar code. Either the bar code alone is covered by a separate portion of the scratch-off material or the bar code in combination with play indicia is covered by the scratch-off material. However, covering the entire bar code has at least one significant disadvantage. In this approach, almost all of the scratch-off material must be removed from the bar code in order to be able to have the bar code successfully read by a scanner. Requiring a player or a lottery agent to completely remove a scratch-off coating from a bar code, especially on an instant lottery ticket where speed and convenience of redemption are desirable characteristics of this product, can result in a time consuming and inefficient method of operation.
Another problem relates to the redemption of lottery tickets using a win checker, of the type described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,417,424. In this process, the player uses a win checker associated with an agent terminal to read a win code printed on the lottery ticket, and if the win code indicates that the ticket is a winner, the player takes it to the lottery agent for redemption. In many cases, the lottery agent then has to enter a security code or ticket identifier printed in human readable form manually on the terminal's keyboard in order to complete the validation and redemption process. This can also result in a time consuming and inefficient method of operation.
It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a lottery ticket having a bar code that is only partially covered by a scratch-off material.
It is another object of the invention to provide a lottery ticket having a bar code containing validation data where only a portion of the bar code is covered by a scratch-off material such that the validation data cannot be read by a bar code reader without removing the scratch-off material. The scratch-off material can have a predetermined shape such as a circle in order to facilitate evidence of tampering. Alternatively, the scratch-off material can be printed over the bar code as a horizontal or vertical strip obscuring a predetermined portion of the data in the bar code. For example, when using a 2 dimensional code, such as PDF-417, vertical stripes can be used to obscure one or more columns of data in the bar code.
A further object of the invention is to provide a lottery ticket having a bar code containing validation data formatted, in for example code words, having a predetermined level of redundancy where only a portion of the validation data or code words is covered by a scratch-off material such that the portion of code words covered by the scratch-off material exceeds the level of redundancy sufficiently to prevent decoding of the validation data without removing at least a portion of the scratch-off material.
Yet another object of the invention is to provide a lottery ticket having a bar code containing validation data where only a portion of the bar code is covered by a scratch-off material such that the validation data cannot be read by a bar code reader without removing the scratch-off material and where the scratch-off material includes a printed instruction to remove the scratch-off material. The scratch-off material can also be printed with an indication of prizes that can be won as an incentive to rub off the material.
Still another object of the invention is to provide a lottery ticket having a bar code with minimum information content on the front of the ticket that is at least partially covered by a scratch-off material such that the ticket can be securely validated in a keyless manner after the scratch-off material has been removed.
Another object of the invention is to provide a lottery ticket having a machine readable ticket identifier in conjunction with a player ticket checker. In some cases, the ticket identifier can be used in combination with a win code also printed on the lottery ticket in machine readable form.
The objects of the invention also include providing a mechanism for redeeming lottery tickets having ticket identifiers printed on the tickets. This mechanism includes a player ticket checker with a data reader for reading the ticket identifiers and a pre-validation file in an agent terminal that is in communication with the player ticket checker. The data reader can read the ticket identifier and if the lottery ticket is identified by the pre-validation file, the need for a lottery agent to key the ticket identification in to the agent terminal is obviated. The data reader can also be used to read a win code if one is included on the lottery ticket.
It should be noted that the use of the term “bar code” as used herein in the context of the invention generally represents optically machine readable information printed on a lottery ticket and would include for example optical character recognition (OCR) type characters, information printed in various matrix schemes, such as the Data Matrix 2-D bar code described at idautomation.com, as well as other optically readable information that might be developed in the future.
In the embodiment of the invention shown in
In general, it is desirable to cover with the scratch-off material any information in a bar code redundant to the information in the bar code that is covered by the scratch-off material in order to prevent machine reading of the validation data. this redundant information can include error correction codes built into the bar code such as, for example, a Reed Solomon error correction code integrated into an ECC200 Data Matrix bar code.
To enhance player participation and the validation process, the scratch-off materials 18, 22, 32, 34 and 36 can include human readable information such as incentives to scratch-off this material. As shown in
With reference to
The bar codes printed on instant tickets typically use the Interleaved 2 of 5 (I 2 of 5) format. In such a bar code the information is arranged in pairs of digits. Each pair of digits corresponds to a single bar code character. So, the above 24 digits of data would be represented by twelve I 2 of 5 bar code characters. Since the game, pack and ticket number are often printed in human readable form on the back of the lottery ticket 10, there is no security reason to cover these digits with latex when printed in a bar code. Thus, in one embodiment of the invention, only those bar code characters that correspond to the validation information are concealed under the scratch-off material 32. In this case, that would correspond to the 12 digits of the validation number and security code. This results in the bar code 30 having just 12 of its 24 digits of data, or 50% of its data, covered by the scratch-off material 32.
However, this still results in a large portion of the bar code 30 being covered by the scratch-off material 32 because it is standard practice in the lottery industry to print the validation number in the I 2 of 5 bar code along with the inventory control information and the checksum. Often, one or more of the security code digits is not printed in the I 2 of 5 bar code. Accordingly it is preferable in certain cases to print a conventional I 2 of 5 bar code such as 30 with only the bar code characters corresponding to the security code obscured by the scratch-off material 32. Thus, in this example, only 2 of the 12 bar code characters are covered with the scratch-off material 32, or approximately 16.7% of the characters. This results in a lottery ticket 10 having the minimal amount of the scratch-off material 32 that has to be removed to validate the ticket 10 yet having security equivalent to conventional lottery tickets where the security digit(s) are not present in the bar code. Or, in bar codes where the security digits are present, covering the security digits with the scratch-off material 32 can increase security.
In another technique commonly used to print information in an I 2 of 5 bar code the 9-digit validation number and the 3-digit security code are compressed and encrypted into a 10-digit string of encrypted validation data. This encrypted string is then printed in the clear in the I 2 of 5 bar code along with the inventory control data and checksum. This results in an I 2 of 5 bar code containing 22 decimal digits or 11 bar code characters. With this type of bar code only a small amount of the code need be covered by the scratch-off material 32 to prevent it from being read by a bar code reader prior to the lottery ticket 10 being sold to the public. With a conventional 1-D code, such as I 2 of 5, only the smallest of obstructions can prevent the code from being read. In some cases, simply covering a single narrow space between two of the vertical bars of the bar code will prevent it from being read. However, if such a small covering were partially removed, prior to the sale to the public, it would probably not be noticed by the player. Therefore, it is preferable that the amount of scratch-off material 32 covering the bar code 30 should be sufficiently distinctive that its removal or tampering would be evident to a player.
It should be understood that the various embodiments of the invention described in connection with FIGS. 1, 2A-C and 3A-B only provide specific examples of how the invention can be implemented on a lottery ticket. The number and location of the bar code(s) and the portion covered by the scratch-off coatings will generally be governed by a number of factors including the type of lottery ticket, e.g., instant or probability, the physical size of the ticket, the size of the play area required, the amount of human readable and display information desired, the type of bar code used, e.g., 1-D or 2-D, the level of redundancy in the bar codes and the number and characteristics of bar code readers in the available agent terminals. Also, the lottery ticket can be configured in such a way that a portion of the scratch-off material 18 used to cover the play indicia in the play area 12 can be used to cover all or part of a bar code such as the bar code 48.
Similarly, the back of the lottery ticket 56 is depicted in
In most embodiments of the invention, the back bar code 78 will include the inventory data 84 but can include all or a portion of the ticket identifier data as well. The check digits 80 can be used to confirm all or just a predetermined portion of the data read from the back bar code 78. It should also be noted that the back bar code 78 can include the check digits 80 that can be used in a process confirm data read from the front bar code 58. If the check digits 60 or 80 do not confirm the data in the bar codes 78 or 58, the lottery ticket generally will be rejected
As indicated above, the various embodiments of the invention can be structure based on such factors as: the physical size and layout of the lottery tickets; the prize structure; validation hardware available such as the configuration of agent terminals; and the level of security desired. These factors can also be balanced against certain general objectives such as minimizing the amount of machine readable data on the front of a lottery ticket, for example, the size of a bar code and minimizing the amount of scratch-off material that a player is required to remove to redeem a lottery ticket. The invention can include the following representative embodiments.
First, the lottery ticket 56 can include only the validation data 62, partially or completely covered by the scratch-off coating 70, on the front of the ticket 56 with only the inventory data 64 printed on the back of the ticket 56. A variation of this embodiment can include the check digits 60 or 80 printed on the front or back of the ticket 56 that would link the two codes 62 and 82.
Another embodiment can include a portion of the validation data 62, partially or completely covered by the scratch-off coating 70, on the front of the lottery ticket 56 with the inventory data 64 and only a portion of the validation data 62 printed on the back of the ticket 56 and the check digits 60 and 80 printed on both sides of the ticket 56.
In a third embodiment, the lottery ticket 56 includes the inventory data 84 and a portion of the validation data printed on the back of the ticket 56 and further includes the win code 72 and the ticket identifier 74 printed on the front of the ticket 56 where the ticket identifier 74 is printed in human readable form. During redemption, the win code 72 and the ticket identifier 74 are read by the ticket checker 100 and if the ticket identifier is not read by the ticket checker 100, a lottery agent can enter the ticket identifier digits 74 via the keyboard 92 into the terminal 88.
The lottery ticket 56 in a fourth embodiment can include the prize code 68 which is at least partially covered by the scratch-off coating 70 along with the check digits 60 that represent all or part of the information in the back bar code 78 including the inventory data 84. In addition to the prize code 68, the front bar code 58 can include at least a portion of the validation data 62 that can be uncovered or partially covered by the scratch-off coating 70.