Connecticut lottery officials were aware of the potential for cheating with the 5 Card Cash game before the game was even instituted, but did nothing, according to a new report provided by the Department of Consumer Protection.
Tickets for the Connecticut lottery’s 5 Card Cash Game haven’t been sold since an investigation into fraud concerns began in 2015. The state learned from retailers that there were concerns over cheating in the cash poker-style game that allowed people to manipulate the tickets to win.
On Tuesday, lawmakers revisited the issue in a public hearing at an information hearing. The Public Safety and Security Committee invited the public to discuss the investigation into the game as well as the severance package awarded to the former Connecticut lottery CEO Anne Noble.
According to the new investigation report, Connecticut Lottery Corporation officials were warned of concerns from other state lotteries about the potential for fraud with games set up in the same style as 5 Card Cash, but did not pass that information along to DCP’s Gaming Division.
During testing before the game’s launch, lottery officials discovered bet details could be seen by retailers on customer history screens, and the lottery took steps to monitor retailer activity as a result. However, this information was not passed along to DCP.
The DCP report states that as early as July or August of 2014 the lottery knew there were issues with bet details because of the information provided on the customer history screens, but no action was taken.
Eventually retailers found there was a way to essentially find out of a bet was a winner, then slow down the system and avoid losing tickets.
Despite lottery officials knowing about potential problems over a year before, the first report to DCP that there may be an issue with 5 Card Cash until October 29, 2015. That November the game was temporarily suspended and the lottery said it had plans to install new software to enhance security and eliminate the problem.
Multiple lottery merchants were arrested on cheating accusations, and lottery officials estimated some retailers earned tens of thousands of dollars through the fraud. Some of the money was recovered.
Iinvestigation led to a permanent suspension of the game. The state concluded that some lottery officials were in violation of reporting requirements and that there was cause to question the “suitability” of certain lottery employees.
Anne Noble, who was one of the officials under investigation, announced her resignation in August 2016 and officially surrender her license and stepped down in September. However, she stayed on as a paid adviser to the lottery board for several more months.
"DCP takes the investigation into the 5 Card Cash game incredibly seriously," said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull in a statement. "We remain ready, willing, and able to provide the information we can to the legislature and the public. Our investigation is coming to a close and we will provide further information upon its completion. I want to thank our gaming division for working so diligently on this matter, and the public for their patience as we work to finish our investigation as thoroughly as possible."