Lottery Employee Games the System to Win $14 Million

Are Lottery Systems Rigged?

Lottery Employee Games the System to Win $14 Million
August 27, 2015

Rigging the lottery to win $14 million? It sounds like the plot of a fictional "Ocean's Sixteen." However, it actually did occur, but in Iowa, not Vegas. The criminal never did profit from his crime, and was recently convicted on fraud charges.

Eddie Tipton and the Hot Lotto Game

Eddie Tipton was a former security officer and one of the few people with access to the computer room for the multistate Hot Lotto game. Tipton was accused of rigging the lottery by using a "root kit"—a program inserted into the code of the computer that generates the random winning numbers. The root kit picked the winning numbers and then deleted itself — making it untraceable.

The inside job worked, but Tipton couldn’t collect the winnings himself. He was caught almost a year after the ticket purchase in December of 2010. With the unclaimed prize about to expire, there were two attempts to cash the ticket by people who refused to disclose the name of the buyer. It is against Iowa law to pay out jackpots anonymously for just this reason. Eventually, the ticket origin was traced back to Tipton through an old friend who was behind the attempts to cash the ticket.

Tipton was identified on video purchasing the ticket with the specific winning numbers at a convenience store in Des Moines. As a lottery employee, Tipton was not eligible to win any prizes; therefore the very act of his buying a ticket was suspicious.

The Triple Six Fix

Ping-pong balls are not immune to rigging either. In 1980, the host of the televised Pennsylvania lottery drawing, Nick Perry, was arrested and sentenced to seven years in prison for rigging the lottery that he hosted.

The balls were swapped out with a set weighted to choose two numbers (4 and 6), and business associates of Perry's placed large bets on all three-number combinations including 4 and 6. It is because of this that the case became known as “The Triple 6 Fix”. The group won $1.8 million dollars, but was caught due to the suspicious betting pattern. Had they not been as greedy, they might have gotten away with it. The tricksters were immortalized in 2000 in the film “Lucky Numbers,” starring John Travolta.

Might other lotteries have been rigged in a similar fashion? It is possible, but it would require a pretty solid "Ocean's"-style conspiracy, whether the lottery uses computers or ping-pong balls.

It’s difficult for any individual to rig a lottery game. The closest attempt to success was Richard Knowlton, who ran the computers for the Kansas lottery. Knowlton used the computers to turn losing scratch tickets into winners to the tune of $63,000, but claimed his effort was to prove there were security holes in the system.

How You Can Avoid Being Scammed Out Of Your Lotto Winnings

The typical lottery crime involves legitimate winners who are cheated out of their money. Aside from those taking advantage of money-winners, there are multiple cases of store clerks telling a player their ticket was not a winner, then pocketing the ticket and cashing it for their own gain. The moral of the story: always check your tickets online or on a public format.

In short, there is no evidence that lotteries are rigged in any systematic fashion from either the lottery operators or players. Certainly lotteries have no need to rig the system. They are like any other game of chance and are designed to have a combination of odds and payout that generate revenue for the game operators, as they have to in order to exist.

Of course, we only read about rigging when someone is caught, and it is usually over a large attention-getting jackpot. If anyone were clever enough to rig the lottery with modest winnings and manage to spread it out over time, we would probably never know.


Photo ©iStock.com/ mphillips007

  Conversation   |   37 Comments

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Elaine | 08.27.15 @ 14:11
I'm not at all shocked by what was said in this article. I think I would be more shocked to hear that it has never been "fixed." I have never played so I know I have been spared playing what should be a fair game to find out that it wasn't.
Carla Truett | 08.27.15 @ 14:17
I wonder how many people out there have not been caught cheating and are sitting pretty with their winnings right now. I'm glad these few were caught.
Nancy | 08.27.15 @ 14:18
Not surprised. There is too much money at stake for it not to have been tried. I'm glad people have been caught.
Debbie | 08.27.15 @ 14:20
I have always felt it was like the slot machines in Las Vegas. I still do after reading this
Daniel Dohlstrom | 08.27.15 @ 14:24
No surprises here, i did know some of this already but face it if it can at least be tried to rig something to make money someone is going to do it
Apryl | 08.27.15 @ 14:24
All those skills could have earned them actual money had they tried to stay legit.
Crystal | 08.27.15 @ 14:24
One of the reasons you'd never catch me wasting money on lottery tickets.
Bobbie | 08.27.15 @ 14:25
Not at all surprised by this, but it is interesting to read how they tried to pull it off.
Steffanie | 08.27.15 @ 14:28
I am not a lottery player, but I'm not shocked by this article.
Irene | 08.27.15 @ 14:37
I don't play anymore. I used to get 1 ticket per week but after so many months of not even winning a free ticket it just isn't worth it to me to keep playing. I'm not a lucky person.
Alec | 08.27.15 @ 14:47
I've never played the lottery but I've heard some of these stories before. I don't think the majority of them are rigged but the chances of winning are just so insanely low that it's not worth it, in my opinion.
Erin | 08.27.15 @ 14:48
This doesn't surprise me at all. I'll stick to earning my money instead of throwing it away on a lottery.
Christina | 08.27.15 @ 14:52
It's no surprise really. With that much money they will try anything..
gracie | 08.27.15 @ 14:55
I think sometimes the lure of quick and easy just gets to be too tantalizing for people to resist.
Britt | 08.27.15 @ 14:56
It doesn't really surprise me. When the prize is multiple million dollars, and you have at least a few million people playing... the odds really aren't any one's favor, so it isn't shocking that things would be a little rigged.
Christina | 08.27.15 @ 15:20
I haven't bought a lottery ticket in a long time - the odds don't favor anyone and with that much at stake, it's inevitable that people will try to scam the system.
Sarah | 08.27.15 @ 15:21
Seems about right. I only play the scratchies and even then it's rare.
Victor | 08.27.15 @ 15:24
It's more likely that this had happened a lot of times prior to this one, considering how those things are managed
Beverly | 08.27.15 @ 15:34
I am glad they were able to catch him. People are always trying to find a way to beat the system, ruining the fun for the rest of us that follow the rules.
Zanna | 08.27.15 @ 15:40
A lottery is just a tax on people who are bad at math and don't understand how unlikely winning it big really is. I don't play, and I'm not at all shocked to hear it's possible to rig them. A smarter fellow would have had his best friend buy the ticket, and split the winnings, with nobody ever catching on. Who's to say that hasn't happened already?
Andrea | 08.27.15 @ 16:18
I was under the impression that if you work for the Lottery Commission, you and your family are not allowed to play or collect winnings.
trish | 08.27.15 @ 16:34
I am amazed that there are still people that think they will never be found out when they do something this big. The odds are never in their favor, but they always think its worth the risk, and that they will be the ones to get away with it. Everything comes out in the wash eventually...
trish | 08.27.15 @ 16:34
I am amazed that there are still people that think they will never be found out when they do something this big. The odds are never in their favor, but they always think its worth the risk, and that they will be the ones to get away with it. Everything comes out in the wash eventually...
trish | 08.27.15 @ 16:34
I am amazed that there are still people that think they will never be found out when they do something this big. The odds are never in their favor, but they always think its worth the risk, and that they will be the ones to get away with it. Everything comes out in the wash eventually...
Sara | 08.27.15 @ 16:38
Does not really surprise me that people are trying to rig the lottery. Pretty glad I never got into the lottery.
Crystal | 08.27.15 @ 17:05
It don't surprise me. There are people everywhere trying to scheme and get around the system to win.
Jackie | 08.27.15 @ 17:21
I'm not surprised at the people caught rigging the lottery. If there's a way to cheat to make money someone will try it.
Kamie | 08.27.15 @ 17:34
This reminds me of when that guy won big on No Whammy!
Heather | 08.27.15 @ 17:43
Doesn't surprise me one bit that people have tried rigging the lottery. To me the risk is not worth the reward.
Donnie | 08.27.15 @ 19:01
Not shocked . Where there's money greed follows .
Wanda Langley | 08.27.15 @ 19:49
It appears that anything to do with a computers can be hacked or rigged in todays world.
Rychana Vingia | 08.27.15 @ 20:36
It is a shame the store clerks would lie and steal. I would love to win the lottery but I know it would never happen. I don't play so I know I won't win.
Angie | 08.27.15 @ 21:01
The last paragraph says it all - no telling who hasn't been caught...I feel bad for the folks who've been scammed by clerks or even family members.
Leah Gardner | 08.27.15 @ 22:15
Not surprised at all. There is a reason I refuse to play for the big money. Occasionally I'll buy a scratcher, but that's rare.
Chelsey | 08.27.15 @ 22:17
I have always steered clear of the lottery. One because the odds of winning are definetly not in my favor, Two because I usually have a suspicion with things like this that it is rigged.
Vaughn | 08.28.15 @ 01:49
I don't do gambling. It stresses me out.
Rindy | 08.28.15 @ 02:48
It really is a game of chance. The people that try to cheat and steal basically will eventually pay for it one way or another.
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