Mysterious caller alleged that Texas lottery jackpots were rigged
The Chicago Tribune and other news media outlets recently published stories about a scheme to rig multistate lottery jackpots.The case involved prizes that ‘winners’ collected in Oklahoma and Colorado, according to the investigators in Iowa that cracked the case.
The Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press reported that last year Eddie Tipton, ex-security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, was convicted of fixing a $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot in 2010. His brother, Tommy Tipton, who served as a justice of peace judge and reserve police officer in Texas, is the latest to face charges in the ongoing investigation.
More than 15 years ago, a man who called the El Paso Times newsroom alleged that Texas state lottery jackpots were rigged. For some reason, I ended up with that phone call. I asked him how that could happen since the winning numbers were selected at random. At around that same time, a news story that originated elsewhere quoted an expert who questioned the ‘randomness’ of the lottery jackpots in Texas.
A map and list of big jackpot winnings made it obvious that lottery jackpots were concentrated in certain large cities. I am not a statistical expert, so I could not conclude that lottery players in El Paso did not win many jackpots because the election of the winning numbers was truly not random. Television showed these bouncing balls, how the numbers were supposedly picked, and viewers assumed it was all a chance game.
The mysterious caller, who would not identify himself, claimed to be calling from Austin, Texas. He said a deal had been struck between banks and state officials to contain the big jackpots to certain large cities in Texas. The idea was that big money flowing into cities like El Paso and others could destabilize the state’s economy. Yeah, right.
If this were true, then what it really meant was that major banks that handled lottery jackpot winnings did not want to see the money go to accounts in your home-grown banks or other financial institutions. The caller said he would explain how the rigging was done only if and when a grand jury subpoenaed him for the information. He said that to go public otherwise would get him killed.
Sources I contacted said that lottery numbers were picked at random and so that therefore the jackpots could not be rigged …. People at the state lottery office said that rigging could not be done. One of the editors to whom I mentioned the caller’s information, also said that rigging was impossible, and the matter was dropped. I never heard from the caller again and always wondered what became of him.
Apparently, as the Eddie Tipton case shows, it was possible for an insider using software to manipulate jackpot winnings in other states. Could it, did it, happen in Texas?
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