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Oregon untouched by lottery fixing investigation


An investigation into jackpot rigging in five states has raised questions about the integrity of lottery games nationwide.

The likelihood of winning a lottery jackpot is less than dying in a plane crash, catching a flesh-eating bacteria or being duped by a corrupt lottery employee.

The integrity of lottery games nationwide are in question amid an investigation into jackpot fixing that started in Iowa and has spread to at least four other states, Colorado, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Kansas, according to The Associated Press.

There is no information that games offered in Oregon have been compromised, said Oregon Lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann.

The investigation stems from accusations that a former security director at the Urbandale, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association installed root kit software on the association’s random number generators to find out winning numbers in advance, The Associated Press reported.

Former security director Eddie Tipton, who worked for MUSL for 11 years, was convicted in July of fraud for working with associates to try to claim a $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot he had rigged in Iowa. He has since been charged with criminal conduct and money laundering involving lotteries in Colorado, Wisconsin and Oklahoma, The Associated Press reported.

The nonprofit lottery association administers a variety of lottery games in 44 states, including Hot Lotto, Wild Card, Powerball and Mega Millions.

The only MUSL-administered games Oregon participates in are Powerball and Mega Millions, Baumann said. The winning numbers for those games are selected in a live televised drawing. The Powerball drawing is held at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. The process is the same for Mega Millions except that the drawing takes place in Atlanta, Ga.

Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson, chairman of the MUSL board, did not immediately respond to messages inquiring whether Tipton had access to lottery equipment or computers outside of Iowa, where MUSL is based.

Oregon’s Game Megabucks uses an International Game Technology random number generator to yield winning combinations. That computer is housed at the Oregon Lottery headquarters in Salem. The random number generator is a stand-alone computer under 24-hour video surveillance and is not part of the Oregon Lottery’s central computer system, Baumann said.

International Game Technology and Oregon State Police Lottery Security Section evaluate and monitor the security controls, he said.

The random number generator “has no knowledge of the ticket number combinations that have been purchased for any of the drawings,” Baumann said.

At draw time, the lottery’s central computer system, with no human involvement "asks" the random number generator for the set of winning numbers, he said.

An independent testing laboratory also certifies the number generator at random, he said.

He did not immediately have information about how many people have access to the random number generator.

Geoff Greenwood, spokesman for the Iowa Attorney General, said that office would notify proper authorities of any alleged illegal activity in other states that might be discovered during the course of its investigation.

What are the odds of winning the lottery in Oregon? The odds of winning the jackpot in any of the three games offered in Oregon are dismal, but players have better chances winning at the state's homegrown game, Oregon's Game Megabucks. According to the Oregon Lottery, the odds of winning that is 1-in-6.1 million compared with winning Powerball, 1-in-292 million, and Mega Millions, 1-in-258 million.

By Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau Reporter
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