At Oberthur, security is more than just a game
Quebec printer is a big winner in the lottery ticket production business

To get a tour of Oberthur Gaming Technologies' Montreal plant you have to get past security guards, banks of video cameras and you are buzzed in through three sets of locked doors. And that's just to get into the lobby.

"We take security very seriously," says André Nadeau, Oberthur's senior vice-president, who heads marketing and strategic development initiatives at the company's Canadian division, one of the largest fully-integrated suppliers of lottery tickets and services in the world. The company hosts a long list of prestigious clients including Loto-Quebec and the New Jersey, Maryland and Washington State Lotteries.

Lottery ticket production is a fiercely competitive business with three major players fighting for about 150 major state and provincial lottery accounts. Everyone knows everyone in the industry and security counts for a lot.

"If our clients can't rely on the fact that their games will be safe from fraud, theft or accidental error then we are out of business,"
says Nadeau. "We don't just sell lottery products, we sell confidence."

Ironically, despite security's importance in the field and the fact that security encompasses all aspects of their work life, few at the top levels in the industry give it much thought.

"It's like electricity," Nadeau says. "It's so important, you need it all the time and you can't do without it. But if there was a breech, even temporarily, you'd have to stop everything and get the problem fixed. "

At Oberthur, security starts from within. All of the division's 960 employees, including the 475 production, design and administrative staff who work at the Montreal plant undergo complete background checks.

In addition to traditional phone calls to previous employers, Oberthur's investigations include inquiries into whether the employee had previous brushes with the law, whether he or she is party to any outstanding litigation and even a financial solvency check. If there is any doubt as the employee's character, the company takes a pass, no matter what his skills and experience are.

Once you get past Oberthur's initial security and sign-in procedures, visitors, like all employees, are given a computerized pass-card. The card controls which parts of the building each employee has access to, and it records their movements in a centralized tracking system.

Even senior executives have restrictions on where they can they go.

"See these printed sheets here," asks Nadeau, pointing to a line of skids. "If we stand around them much longer, we'll be approached by company security."

One of Oberthur's biggest security risk exposures is its waste sheets, color proofs, sketches and so on. To make sure that none of these gets into the hands of evildoers, all the plant's output that doesn't end up in finished goods goes through Oberthur's huge in-house shredders.

Computers play a key role in the printing industry, and the lottery ticket production business is no exception. Every skid and box of finished goods is tagged, recorded and continuously tracked.

One of the major production challenges for most lottery ticket producers, is to combine the standard and variable elements of a print run, so that the plant employees don't' know the winning ticker numbers in scratch and win games.

Oberthur overcomes the challenge of hiding the winner numbers from employees, by first printing the ticket backs with numerous passes of ink, so they cannot be read through when they are held up to light.

It's not much of an exaggeration to say that with all the design elements that are placed into today's lottery games to attract consumer interest, that the ticket's themselves have become works of art. Many models often require numerous passes through Oberthur's Comco and Goebel presses.

After the backs are printed, colors and decorative elements are added and then the tickets pass through a Scitex random-number-generator/printer, which assigns the winning number, and then adds the covering agent for the scratch-off component, all in one pass. This key step of the production process is done, while the stock is hidden from the employee's view.

While the entire production process may seem complicated for the layman, Emmnuèle Cousineau, Oberthur's chief executive officer takes it all in without raising an eyebrow.

"We take no chances here, our customers come first." says Cousineau. "If we lose one package of tickets in a print run, we wouldn't compromise the game's reputation by taking the risk that comes from fake tickets being out the market. We would throw out the whole game and reprint it from scratch."

 

 

 

peter@peterdiekmeyer.com

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