By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, December 24, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) said, that the growing lottery rigging scandal shows that government cannot run things right, and that states that participated in the Powerball lottery could be facing a class action suit.
Auditor Zeigler said, “The government cannot run things right, especially when dealing with millions of other peoples’ dollars. These national lotteries that most states joined have been rigged (Powerball, etc.). They quietly fired their 28-year executive director in October, and the press just now found out. A major investigation is quietly proceeding.”
Zeigler continued, “Now, the elements are present for a huge class action suit on behalf of all citizens who bought tickets in fraudulent lotteries. States that joined the multi-state lotteries would be defendants. States that did not join the multi-state lotteries will be glad they did not.”
Lottery critics have long denounced the games as, “A tax on people who can not do math.” According to the Powerball website the odds of winning the jackpot is 1 in 175,223,510, but there is growing evidence that that might have been overly optimistic because according to prosecutors a number of the games may possibly have been rigged.
According to original reporting by the Associated Press, the executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association since its inception in 1987, Charles Strutt, was fired in October by the group’s board, which includes directors of lotteries in 37 states and US territories.
Strutt was fired following the announcement by state prosecutors that the Multi-Sate Lottery Association’s former security director, Eddie Tipton, may have been rigging the contests for years. Tipton allegedly installed undetectable software that gave him advance knowledge of winning numbers, then provided those numbers to accomplices to play those numbers and collect the jackpots. Tipton has been convicted of fraud for fixing one jackpot in Des Moines, but prosecutors say that his high-tech scheme extended far beyond Iowa. Prosecutors accuse Tipton of tampering with lottery drawings in four states over six years and investigators are expanding their inquiry nationwide. Colorado, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma have confirmed paying jackpots valued at a total of $8 million to persons allegedly linked to Tipton and his associates.
For years, lottery advocates in Alabama have been promoting a lottery patterned after the Georgia Lottery, which would pay scholarships for qualified Alabama students to go to college. In the last legislative session House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) proposed a lottery bill to fund Alabama’s troubled State General Fund (SGF), which supports prisons, courts, law enforcement, Medicaid, mental health, and other non-education state agencies. Senate President Pro-Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) included the lottery in a much larger General Fund bailout plan that included taxing Indian gaming and allowing casinos at four of the State’s dog tracks. Neither of those bills ever made it to the floor of either house during the 2015 Legislative Session.
Some proponents of Medicaid expansion have proposed creating an Alabama lottery to fund expanding Medicaid and some version of that idea is likely to be introduced in the upcoming 2016 legislative session; but any lottery proposal must pass both houses of the Alabama legislature and then go before a vote of the people. The last time the people voted on a lottery (and that was an education lottery) it was soundly rejected.