KSNT News Special Report: Hot Lotto

Why the Kansas Lottery is secure to play

In late December, news broke that an inside man convicted in Iowa of fixing a multi-state lottery jackpot, had also fixed two lotto tickets that were purchased in Kansas according to authorities. At the time, The Kansas Lottery issued a press release saying they had conducted an in-depth internal analysis and investigation. We wanted to know what that means and eventually had to file an open records request.

KSNT News sent questions to The Kansas Lottery a few days before Christmas and never received a reply. Another email weeks later also went unanswered. After filing an open records request, we received a detailed email answering our questions about the safety, security, and integrity of The Kansas Lottery. The deputy executive director apologized and blamed the holidays and the record Powerball jackpot that followed for their slow response.

THE KANSAS LOTTERY OPEN RECORDS REQUEST AND RESPONSE 

lotto

Authorities say it all started with a man named Eddie Tipton--the former Director of Information Security at the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa. Tipton was convicted last fall of tampering with lottery equipment and sentenced to a decade in prison. But, that was only the beginning. In their response to our open records request, Kansas lottery officials say they were notified last November that Tipton may have rigged the Iowa-based system, and then he or his friends purchased two "2 by 2" lottery tickets in Kansas before cashing out a total of $44,000. The Kansas Lottery has previously said they are working with the state of Iowa and the Kansas Attorney General's office to determine if criminal or civil violations have taken place in the Sunflower State. However, we've now learned there is no timeline for the completion of those investigations. Although not directly involved, we talked to Topeka Representative Dick Jones who sits on the House Federal and State Affairs Committee which creates regulations for The Kansas Lottery.

“Well our concern is due diligence within the system,” Rep. Jones told KSNT News in his office at the Statehouse.

Are security systems in place?

The Kansas Lottery makes it clear that if indeed a random number generator was compromised in 2010 to facilitate the "2 by 2" winning tickets purchased in Kansas, that happened at the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa were that game is drawn--not here at their facilities.

We asked what security systems are in place at The Kansas Lottery, and this is what we were told.

*A multi-step process involving multiples staff members from their I.T. and security departments ensures drawings are honest and fair.

*Kansas’ random number generators or RNG's are under constant surveillance and monitored by a security feed around the clock.

*Their RNG's are subject to independent security and I.T. audits for function and security

*Lastly, an extensive security audit is conducted every three years by an independent security firm as required by law.

For those reasons, The Kansas Lottery's Assistant Director Sherriene Jones-Sontag assures Kansans that their overall security is exceptional. Rep. Jones notes that there's nothing that can be developed that's absolutely foolproof. However, he expressed confidence in The Kansas Lottery when speaking of games of chance.

“In terms of other activities lotteries are just about the very best that we can come up with...for the time being,” Jones said with a slight smile.

kansas lottery

The Kansas Lottery makes it clear that if indeed a random number generator was compromised in 2010 to facilitate the "2 by 2" winning tickets purchased in Kansas, that happened at the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa were that game is drawn--not here at their facilities.

We asked what security systems are in place at The Kansas Lottery, and this is what we were told.

*A multi-step process involving multiples staff members from their I.T. and security departments ensures drawings are honest and fair.

*Kansas’ random number generators or RNG's are under constant surveillance and monitored by

a security feed around the clock.

*Their RNG's are subject to independent security and I.T. audits for function and security

*Lastly, an extensive security audit is conducted every three years by an independent security firm as required by law.

For those reasons, The Kansas Lottery's Assistant Director Sherriene Jones-Sontag assures Kansans that their overall security is exceptional. Rep. Jones notes that there's nothing that can be developed that's absolutely foolproof. However, he expressed confidence in The Kansas Lottery when speaking of games of chance.

“In terms of other activities lotteries are just about the very best that we can come up with...for the time being,” Jones said with a slight smile.

Digging for answers

Earlier this month, the first of what could be a series of lawsuits was filed by a lottery winner. Larry Dawson of Iowa won a $9 million Hot Lotto jackpot in 2011. He now claims Tipton's rigging could have cost him what should have been a $16 million jackpot.

Here in Kansas, a spokesman for state Attorney General Derek Schmidt told KSNT News in a December email that the A.G. "has been in consultation with the lottery and is confident that their conclusion is correct." We pushed for why in a series of emails to which his communications staff politely declined to answer. Ultimately, we filed an open records request with the Kansas Attorney General's Office. Here's what we received in return: an email from KSNT News reporter Tyler Carter, an email from a Wichita TV reporter, and four copies of KSNT News anchor Jared Broyles’ own emails; all correspondence with the A.G.'s communication staff only.

A.G. OPEN RECORDS REQUEST

A.G.’S RESPONSE TO OPEN RECORDS REQUEST

Multiple reasons were cited for excluding potentially relevant documents; mainly the protection for attorney work product. We filed a complaint with the attorney general's office itself which investigates potential violations of the Kansas Open Records Act. The Shawnee County District Attorney's Office will review because of conflict of interest.

A.G. OPEN RECORDS COMPLAINT AND RESPONSE

We contacted Attorney General Derek Schmidt's predecessor, Democrat Stephen Six about the denial of our request. Now a private attorney, Six wrote in an e-mail: "If you [KSNT News] drafted your open records request more precisely perhaps you would have received more documents, but probably not." Six noted that investigation-related documents are not open record, and the law doesn't require public officials to answer questions. However, he followed up by saying improvements do need to be made to state law.

 

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