One might hope that the good people at ontario’s lottery monopoly who direct expenditures toward advertising responsible gambling would check with staff mathematicians.

… but no. A long-running local radio commercial is a sad fatherly narrator, chiding a problem gambler. This poor sod apparently believes that gambling just after midnight increases his chances of winning. The narrator informs us that this is not so. Why? I forget the exact words, but it’s something technically non-sequitorial like “the odds of winning are random”; that “one can’t predict winning”.

The mistake is in equating randomness with unpredictability and uniformity.

It is entirely possible to program a slot machine to change its probability distribution for winning, as a function of time, space, whatever, just as it is possible to load dice, or to disturb bingo balls. The effect is not the total loss of randomness, but merely a change in its distribution. And it is something like this that our hypothetical gambler sod apparently imagines with his nightly trek. To reassure him, the commercial would have to assert that the probability distribution was stationary, not merely that there was still randomness.

I don’t think the average adult is too stupid to understand the difference. I wish the OLGC had asked its own technical people to suggest a more accurate way of getting across their intent.