Lottery system hacked in Connecticut
- By Derek Major
- Mar 31, 2016
The lottery is a game of chance, but in Connecticut late last year manipulating the computer system increased the odds for some store operators.
The Connecticut Lottery suspended the 5 Card Cash game in November when officials saw more winning tickets than expected. In the game, each ticket shows five playing cards. If the cards show a winning poker hand, the ticket pays off.
Usually, only 24 percent of tickets are winners, but according to the Hartford Courant, at one store in Hartford, 67 percent of tickets sold were instant winners, and in another sample 58 percent were winners. In another store, 76 percent of the 5 Card Cash tickets were instant winners in one sample, with 59 percent winners in a second sample.
An investigation by the Department of Consumer Protection uncovered that some lottery retailers manipulated the terminals so they could get a look at the tickets before they were issued. By entering a number of database reports or service requests at the same time they entered sales for 5 Card Cash tickets, the operators could slow down the system enough to let them see the tickets onscreen before they printed. In the event the tickets weren’t winners, the operator would cancel the sale before the tickets were printed.
One man made more than $36,000 using the trick. Six people have been arrested in connection with the scheme and are facing charges ranging from first-degree larceny to first-degree computer crimes. The game is still suspended.
Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.