By Jason Clayworth
A judge has granted class-action status in a lawsuit that claims people who purchased at least 7.2 million lottery tickets in 19 states were scammed by a former national lottery IT director who worked in Iowa.
Eddie Tipton, the former IT director for the Multi-State Lottery Association in Urbandale, added a secret code to "random" number-generating computer software in 2005 that allowed him to narrow the drawing's winning odds from as great as 5 million to 1 down to 200 to 1.
Tipton's scam — the largest in U.S. history — went undetected for years, and the code was replicated in lottery computer software across the nation. He hijacked at least five winning drawings totaling more than $24 million in prizes in Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, court records show.
The scheme began to unravel following multiple failed attempts in 2011 to collect a $16.5 million ticket Tipton had purchased at a Des Moines convenience store. He was sentenced in 2017 to up to 25 years in prison in connection with the lottery scams.
Burlington resident Dale Culler is among at least three people who have filed lawsuits naming the Multi-State Lottery Association in connection with the rigged games.
This month, Polk County District Court Judge Michael Huppert granted Culler's effort to seek damages on behalf of potentially hundreds of thousands of players.
Court documents show Culler spent $63 to purchase tickets in two games he believes were affected by Tipton's scam. He has alleged that at least 20 drawings between 2005 and 2013 were affected.
The lottery association — commonly referenced as MUSL — argued that a class-action lawsuit is not manageable because its members cannot be sufficiently ascertained due to the lack of records of people who purchased losing tickets.
Culler argued that people who believed they've been cheated could use affidavits to identify themselves as members of the class-action lawsuit, which Huppert ruled as acceptable.
"The court finds that potential problems of manageability do not outweigh the fact that a class-action suit is the best, and perhaps the only, method of resolving this dispute," Huppert wrote in his opinion.
MUSL is an umbrella organization that is owned and operated by 36 member lotteries including the Iowa Lottery. Its executives previously have said they no longer use computer programs that Tipton designed.
Bret Toyne, the association's director; and Jerry Crawford, a Des Moines attorney who is representing Culler; declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation.
Details showing how players may join Culler's lawsuit have not been filed with the court. A trial is set for March 11.
Culler says games in the following states are affected: Iowa, Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Dakota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, Tennessee and Washington, D.C.
Timeline of the biggest crime in US lottery history
The following is a compilation of Lottery Post news coverage chronicling the Hot Lotto mystery and subsequently discovered crime.
We start the timeline with a news story indicating that only 3 months remained for the $16 million Hot Lotto jackpot to be claimed.
- Iowa Lottery security chief bent on determining identity of jackpot winner, Jan. 10, 2012
- NY lawyer in lottery mystery travels to Iowa this week, Jan. 17, 2012
- Iowa Lottery security chief to grill NY lawyer over Hot Lotto ticket, Jan. 17, 2012
- Representative of Hot Lotto winner named in lawsuit, Jan. 20, 2012
- Hot Lotto trust representative won't name winner, Jan. 20, 2012
- Iowa Lottery threatens to deny jackpot payout if winner stays anonymous, Jan. 23, 2012
- Lawyer gives up $14 million Iowa lottery ticket claim, Jan. 26, 2012
- $14.3 million Hot Lotto prize claim withdrawn, Jan. 27, 2012
- Iowa Legislators satisfied with Lottery's handling of mystery jackpot winner, Feb. 1, 2012
- Iowa Lottery to give away millions from jackpot mystery, Feb. 26, 2012
- Iowa Lottery director: 50-50 that Hot Lotto mystery will be solved, Aug. 9, 2012
- Iowa officials trying to solve lotto mystery, may release surveillance video, Aug. 19, 2012
- MUSL employee arrested in Hot Lotto jackpot mystery, Jan. 15, 2015
- BOMBSHELL: MUSL employee might have rigged Hot Lotto computerized drawing, Apr. 13, 2015
- Texas man charged in Iowa lottery case contests extradition, Apr. 20, 2015
- Extradition trial begins this week in $16.5M Hot Lotto fraud case, Jun. 7, 2015
- Inside the biggest lottery scam ever, Jul. 7, 2015
- Trial underway in world's biggest lottery fraud case, Jul. 14, 2015
- Lottery security chief: Rigging computerized game "sadly" possible, Jul. 15, 2015
- Prosecution rests in Hot Lotto trial, Jul. 16, 2015
- Defense quickly wraps up in Hot Lotto trial, Jul. 16, 2015
- Hot Lotto case moves to jury for deliberations, Jul. 17, 2015
- Former lottery security employee guilty of rigging $14.3M drawing, Jul. 20, 2015
- MUSL security worker who rigged drawing gets 10 years, Sep. 9, 2015
- HOT LOTTO DRAWING CHEAT CHARGED WITH RIGGING MORE JACKPOTS, Oct. 9, 2015
- Texas authorities had previously investigated brother of lottery cheat, Oct. 14, 2015
- Another $1.2M Hot Lotto jackpot rigged by Tipton, officials say, Nov. 21, 2015
- Jackpot-fixing investigation expands to more state lotteries, Dec. 18, 2015
- Prosecutors say Tipton rigged two jackpots he purchased tickets for in Kansas, Dec. 21, 2015
- Maine gives names of Hot Lotto winners to Iowa team looking into rigging scheme, Dec. 23, 2015
- S.C. Lottery assures public no computerized drawings used in state, Dec. 23, 2015
- Kansas lottery players questioning game's integrity, Dec. 23, 2015
- MUSL CHIEF OUSTED OVER JACKPOT-RIGGING SCANDAL, Dec. 23, 2015
- Lottery scandal unlikely to affect New Mexico, official says, Dec. 26, 2015
- Tipton granted delay in next trial until July, Dec. 29, 2015
- Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich to answer lottery player questions live Monday evening, Jan. 11, 2016
- First lawsuit in state lottery-fixing scandal seeks millions, Feb. 4, 2016
- MUSL seeks to dismiss lawsuit over rigged jackpot, Apr. 1, 2016
- Lottery scammer's brother facing criminal charges, Apr. 6, 2016
- Investigators find Tipton's software code to rig computerized lottery drawings, Apr. 7, 2016
- Lottery rigging scandal prompts security audit in South Dakota, Apr. 13, 2016
- Preliminary hearing rescheduled for Tommy Tipton in lottery rigging case, Apr. 22, 2016
- Third suspect surrenders in national lottery rigging scandal, Apr. 28, 2016
- Lottery scam investigation comes to Tennessee, May 11, 2016
- Investigators find another friend of Tipton who cashed rigged lottery prize, May 11, 2016
- Convicted computerized drawing fraudster argues Iowa court appeal, Jun. 16, 2016
- US Senate panel demands info in lottery scandal, Jun. 22, 2016
- Lottery rigging trial to be moved out of Des Moines, Jun. 27, 2016
- Eddie Tipton's new trial delayed until 2017, Jul. 1, 2016
- Iowa court reverses part of Tipton's lottery fraud conviction, Jul. 28, 2016
- Internal investigation concludes Tipton acted alone to rig lottery drawings, Aug. 10, 2016
- Prosecutors say 2 more men may be linked to lottery riggings, Aug. 24, 2016
- Judge: winner's lawsuit in lottery-fixing case can continue, Oct. 13, 2016
- Alleged lottery scandal conspirator to enter new plea, Nov. 14, 2016
- Accused lottery rigger Eddie Tipton facing new Wisconsin charges, Dec. 22, 2016
- Man files lawsuit over rigged lottery jackpots, Jan. 4, 2017
- Trials for Tipton brothers charged in lottery scandal delayed, Jan. 8, 2017
- Former MUSL official received severance amid lottery jackpot scandal, Jan. 10, 2017
- Texas man pleads guilty to fraud in lottery scandal case, Jan. 11, 2017
- Iowa Supreme Court hears lottery rigging case, Feb. 14, 2017
- Kansas files lawsuit against accused lottery rigger, Mar. 16, 2017
- Best friend to testify against Tipton at July lottery rigging trial, Mar. 31, 2017
- Mastermind of lottery fraud will explain how he rigged jackpots, Jun. 12, 2017
- FBI missed rigged jackpot in 2006 before lottery scheme grew, Jun. 19, 2017
- The 5 lottery jackpots Tipton and his friends stole, Jun. 20, 2017
- Lottery jackpot rigger's Iowa convictions dismissed, Jun. 23, 2017
- IT'S OFFICIAL: Tipton pleads guilty to rigging computerized lottery drawings, Jun. 29, 2017
- Lottery rigging accomplice used Wisconsin payout for offshore tax scam, Jul. 6, 2017
- Hot Lotto multi-state lottery game to end in October, Aug. 9, 2017
- Lottery rigging mastermind sentenced to 25 years in prison, Aug. 22, 2017
- Winner sues Colorado Lottery 12 years after rigged drawing, Oct. 5, 2017
- Lottery scammer rigged more drawings than first thought, records show, Feb. 19, 2018
- How a gaming geek with a checkered past pulled off the biggest lottery scam in U.S. history, Mar. 16, 2018
- Infamous lottery scammer says US computerized lottery drawings remain fatally flawed, Mar. 19, 2018
- Iowa Lottery wins International Gaming-Compliance award for work in lottery rigging investigation, Apr. 19, 2018
- The man who cracked the lottery, May 3, 2018
- Memo: Iowa Lottery kept selling games after security warning, Aug. 1, 2018
- Investigation finds lottery scamming Tipton brothers have repaid virtually nothing, Dec. 27, 2018