DES MOINES, Iowa — “How do you go about rigging a lottery?” asked Gus Fritschie at DEF CON 25. “Obviously, you become a lottery developer, write code, and have your friends buy the winning numbers,” he continued, answering his own question.
That’s what Eddie Tipton did, but he got caught, in large part because he bought one of the tickets himself in a store that had video and audio surveillance. But before he was caught and convicted, the then-head of IT at the Multi-State Lottery Association scammed millions of dollars in jackpots in numerous states, creating one of the largest lottery scams ever.
It’s because Tipton rigged the system that Antoinett McGregor isn’t confident everything is on the up and up with the lottery anymore.
“I don’t play the lottery anymore because of the man stealing the money,” said McGregor. “I used to play a lot, but why play if you know you’re not gonna win?”
But John Lee Miller Sr. isn’t going to let the Tipton situation deter him from playing the lotto.
“Well, you know, everybody’s still playing,” he said. “There’s one bad apple in every bunch. So, you know, thank God he got caught.”
Gary Dickey, Managing Member of Dickey & Campbell Law Firm in Des Moines, is suing the Multi-State Lottery Association.
“Anybody who purchased a lottery ticket is guaranteed, according to the rules of the game, to have a random drawing,” said Dickey. “And what we know from Eddie Tipton’s circumstances is that in certain games, that is not what they were given.”
Dickey is representing a Burlington, Iowa, resident seeking a class action lawsuit on behalf of all players who were cheated out of potential lottery winnings.
“As part of our litigation, we’ve asserted that because of Eddie Tipton’s actions, that the lottery games were rigged and therefore people should be entitled to get their money back,” said Dickey.
Dickey says the public should be concerned about the integrity of lotto drawings, but the Iowa Lottery says its games are fair and offer everyone the same shot at winning.
“I know here at the Iowa Lottery, that this case proved to be our best day in the end,” said Mary Neubauer. “In terms of the information that we learned from it and the improvements that we were able to make.”
Neubauer says there are greater checks and balances that have been put in place, such as greater separation of duties and more detailed processes within drawings themselves. She could not reveal much beyond that, though, as she said it would be like giving away the keys to the kingdom.