Yup, that’s exactly the point of the numbers on the Lotto balls, namely to distinguish them from one another, so that any set of 49 unique identifiers could be used. Numbers just happen to be compact and convenient, and easy for people to understand (well, most of them, anyway).
But I fear the committed conspiracist will simply argue that the use of numbers is a deliberate part of the plot to dupe the great unwashed. Such tends to be their unsinkable rubber duck resilience that any discordant bit of evidence or reason that challenges the supposed subversive shenanigans is deftly woven into the narrative as part of the plot’s cleverness.
I have pointed out to relatives and acquaintances who blew the “Lotto Deception!” whistle following the sequential draw that there are far more subtle and effective ways of skimming cash from our NLC (as very likely is already the case) and that such blatant manipulation as they hypothesise would be flatly stupid.
Fat lot of good that did.
As for the Lotto rules, it’s my understanding that the Bonus ball is always the one drawn last. That is, for the draw 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 with 10 as the PowerBall, the 10 must necessarily have been the last ball drawn after the other five, but those five can be drawn in any order. So, if instead the 8 had been the last ball to be drawn, the draw would have been reported as 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 with 8 as the Bonus ball.
With that in mind, I wrote some code that systematically exhausts the draw space, counting the total draws, the number of times sequential numbers are drawn (in any order), and the number of times sequential numbers are drawn where the last ball drawn is also the highest number in the sequence. The code took about 16 minutes to run on my dodgy eight-year-old laptop and produced these results:
Total draws = 10 068 347 520
Sequential numbers draws (any order) = 31 680
Sequential numbers draws (last is highest) = 5 280
The above numbers mean that on average a sequential numbers draw (any order) occurs once in every 317 814 draws (probability ≈ 0.000 003 146 5), and a sequential numbers draw where the last ball is the one with the highest number in the sequence will occur once in every 1 906 884 draws (probability ≈ 0.000 000 524 42).