The Colorado Lottery's switchover of computers has resulted in enormous problems, angry customers and long lines at checkout counters.
On Sunday, the Lottery shut down and replaced more than 2,800 machines throughout the state. It also added new software for the entire system.
About 1,500 of the new machines can check tickets immediately after they are purchased to see whether they are winners. Those include scratch-game tickets - the Lottery's largest sellers - which account for nearly two- thirds of the Lottery's $401 million in annual sales.
By Tuesday afternoon, not only were many of the new machines not working, but the instant ticket-checking service was extremely slow. Customers making purchases at convenience stores were forced to stand in lines while scratch-ticket players waited and waited for their tickets to be validated.
"It's the slowness of the system that's so pervasive," said Diane Reimer, spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue. "People are getting antsy; they don't want to wait so long."
Jim Jackman, 36, had been searching for a place to buy Powerball tickets for tonight's drawing. But everywhere he went, the machines were down. At a King Soopers on Monday and a Safeway and two 7-Elevens on Tuesday, nothing.
"No luck at all," said Jackman, who tried a Diamond Shamrock at East Sixth Avenue and Speer Boulevard on Tuesday to no avail. "I'm superstitious about buying the day of the drawing. I don't have much luck."
Reimer said some retailers got so tired of the hassles that they just shut their lottery machines down, choosing not to make any sales until the glitches were worked out.
She said the problems had been isolated by Tuesday and would be rectified as quickly as possible. She did not know how much money the Lottery had lost. "The biggest problem seems to be telecommunications," she said. "Information coming in from the terminals is hitting a roadblock somewhere."
Mina Annan, a clerk at the 7-Eleven store at East Colfax Avenue and Ogden Street, said she couldn't sign on to the new terminal.
"The screen tells me to put the user-ID number in, then asks for the password," she said Tuesday afternoon. "So I do that and it asks me again for the user-ID number. We've lost a lot of business these two days."
The new system was supplied by Scientific Games of New York. The company signed a six-year contract with the Colorado Lottery in 2002. The Lottery has already extended that contract an additional two years.
The former supplier was Gtech Corp., of Greenwich, Conn., which had been the software supplier since 1988 at about $7 million a year.
The switch had been planned for two years, officials said.