- Associated Press - Monday, January 25, 2016

ST. MARY, Nebraska (AP) - A malfunctioning gambling device at a Nebraska bar has generated several big winning tickets.

A keno machine randomly generates numbers, and players place bets on combinations of numbers that they choose. Bettors win if their numbers match what is generated by the machine.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1S63cYe ) reports that about seven people matched numbers for prizes under $500 on Oct. 31 at Smartville Station bar in St. Mary. The next day, someone won $6,000 and another person won $3,000.

Cass County Keno LLC determined that a software glitch caused the machine to repeat certain numbers in a pattern. Bar owner Susan Goracke says someone figured out the pattern and spread the word. The machine has been removed and there are no plans to install another machine.

According to the Nebraska Charitable Gaming Division, people in Nebraska wagered $232.6 million on keno in the 2014-15 fiscal year, which was up nearly 7 percent from the year before. The Smartville Station bar earned 7 percent of profits from its keno machine, which was an average of a little more than $1,000 a month. Goracke says her business has suffered due the loss of the machine, and that she’s worried that no other company will want to place a keno machine in her bar because of the incident.

“That paid my electric bill. That paid my propane bill and my phone bill,” Goracke said.

Nebraska Charitable Gaming Division Administrator Aaron Hendry has not said whether watching keno machines for patterns or placing a bet after finding a pattern in a malfunctioning machine is illegal.

Jeff Silver, the attorney representing Cass County Keno, says that a player knowingly taking advantage of a glitch is wrong and is potentially committing a crime.

“Keno is a game of chance. If you know what numbers are coming up, it’s no longer a game of chance,” Silver said.

State officials have investigated the incident and turned over their findings to Johnson County Attorney Rick Smith. Smith, who declined to say whether anyone broke a law says he’s still deciding whether anyone will be prosecuted.

Cass County Keno has written checks to people who are not under investigation for potential wrongdoing.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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