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Conn. probes claims of gambling at school

HARTFORD - State officials said yesterday they have asked Reader's Digest's parent company for information about whether it provided a money wheel and possibly other illegal gambling devices to a Connecticut high school.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Paul Young, executive director of the Division of Special Revenue, said they received an anonymous complaint that Reader's Digest provided games of chance at a fund-raiser at East Catholic High School in Manchester within the past two months.

Blumenthal and Young say that machines resembling slot machines, using a lever and offering a prize, were also used.

William Adler, a spokesman for the Reader's Digest Association, said in e-mail that the company has asked for a meeting with state officials to discuss the investigation. He did not specifically comment on the questions raised by Blumenthal and Young.

"It is always our practice to operate within the law," he said.

Agreements with the state give the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes exclusive right to operate casino games such as money wheels and prize wheels, Young said. Otherwise, such gambling devices are illegal in Connecticut. Violators could be found guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.

Bazaar games of chance or raffles are permitted in Connecticut fund-raisers by nonprofit groups, but require a permit from the Division of Special Revenue.

Blumenthal and Young wrote to Reader's Digest and QPS, a subsidiary of Reader's Digest Association. QPS organizes school fund-raisers. The devices were returned, and the "improper fund-raising" was stopped, Blumenthal said.

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