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Maryland Lottery machine glitches frustrate players

Maryland LotteryMaryland Lottery: Maryland Lottery machine glitches frustrate players

New system suffers long breakdowns, customers complain

A new lottery sales system being installed at thousands of convenience, liquor and grocery stores statewide has experienced breakdowns of up to several hours at a time this week, Maryland Lottery officials said Friday. Store owners and avid players in search of their daily numbers were frustrated and furious.

Customers have let store owners hear their displeasure — especially those who can't play the popular Keno game.

"You should see the looks on their faces," said John Christopoulos, an owner of Christo's Discount Liquors in Ferndale. "You should see these people. They're like sheep. They have to have their fix. They should call Charles Schwab and invest their money."

Maryland Lottery director Buddy W. Roogow said the problem with the new machines, which connect to central computers by satellite technology instead of by phone lines, started a few weeks ago and is being worked on by the vendor, Georgia-based Scientific Games International.

"We're addressing it and dealing with it as we speak," Roogow said yesterday. "I can't tell you exactly why we're having this problem. ... Anytime you implement new technology, you tend to have problems."

About 1,800 new touch-screen terminals have been installed since last month, with the remaining 2,400 to be in place by July. At times, all of the new ones have been down. More commonly, the outages have been sporadic, with machines off-line for minutes, Roogow said.

So far, it is unclear how much revenue the state has lost because of the glitches.

But under its five-year contract with the state, Scientific Games must compensate the state for money lost because of equipment problems.

The outages are also a nuisance for store owners, who earn a 5 percent commission on sales, said Pete Samios, president of the 400-plus-member Maryland Lottery Agents Association.

Last fall, lottery officials decided to replace the state's 10-year-old sales terminals with a more advanced, touch-screen version that has other more modern features.

Scientific Games, the Georgia-based company that also provided the older machines, will be paid nearly one penny of each dollar spent on lottery tickets bought from the terminals.

In the fiscal year that ended last June, the lottery generated $477 million in net revenue for the state. For the fiscal year that ends later this month, the budgeted goal is $484 million, and Roogow expects to exceed that projection.

Maryland can ill-afford balky machines. Lottery players provide the state with its third-largest source of money, after income and sales taxes.

The machines are used to sell everything from daily Pick-3 tickets to chances to win the Mega Millions jackpots. The satellite technology, Roogow said, has been tested and is being used successfully in other states. Maryland store owners and managers have been given training sessions on how to use the new equipment.

Jack Milani, a partner in Monaghan's Pub in Woodlawn, said his two new machines were installed Wednesday and he had trouble Thursday.

But by yesterday, even though he feared he might "hex" himself, he reported that things were going fine. "I'm hoping the worst is behind this particular location," Milani said.

Samios, the lottery agents association head, said he hasn't heard too many complaints about the changeover but isn't surprised at the road bumps. "It's a brand-new machine. You're going to have some foul-ups," he said. "It's like having a 10-year-old car as opposed to a brand-new car. It might have a few bugs, but it's better than an old car.

"In the long run, it'll be fine," he said. "A month or two from now everyone will say, 'It's a great machine.'"

Kap Park, who owns the Pennington Market convenience store near Curtis Bay in Baltimore, said he is still using one of the old machines and isn't sure when to expect delivery of his new model.

But he has been hearing about problems elsewhere from customers who come to his store and are relieved to find that his machine is up and running.

At Christo's, co-owner Madia Toll was frazzled by midafternoon. "They've been down all day today," she said. "My customers are coming in for Keno.

"And they're not happy."

Baltimore Sun

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13 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by loves2lotto.
Page 1 of 1
mrmst's avatar - disney14
Glen Burnie, MD
United States
Member #427
June 27, 2002
208 Posts
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Posted: June 5, 2006, 11:40 am - IP Logged

The liquor store where I usually buy my Mega Millions tickets has had the new machine in place for about 2 weeks.  I have not seen any problems - but then again I don't go there everyday for pick3/pick4/keno.  One interesting note is that the tickets are now thermally printed instead of with ink.  In fact there is a warning on the reverse about them being sensitive to heat.  I checked out on a loser ticket with a cigarette lighter - yup, turns black right away as soon as the flame gets anwhere close.  I'm wondering if they will darken if left in the dash of the car on a hot day?

The new machines also print the tickets much faster, and receitps are printed for the customer.  In addition, it has a information dispaly that is turned toward the customer that lets you see how much you won and what you owe.  It should reduce the possibility of an agent cheating a customer of their winnings.

MrMST

Good luck and have a Disney Day ºoºHiding Behind Computer

    bellyache's avatar - 64x64a9wg

    United States
    Member #12618
    March 18, 2005
    2060 Posts
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    Posted: June 5, 2006, 1:09 pm - IP Logged

    "You should see the looks on their faces," said John Christopoulos, an owner of Christo's Discount Liquors in Ferndale. "You should see these people. They're like sheep. They have to have their fix. They should call Charles Schwab and invest their money."

    I thought that comment made in the article was kind of rude. The guy doesn't seem to mind selling tickets and taking these "sheeps" money.

      Avatar
      Delaware
      United States
      Member #30273
      January 14, 2006
      494 Posts
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      Posted: June 5, 2006, 1:17 pm - IP Logged

      "You should see the looks on their faces," said John Christopoulos, an owner of Christo's Discount Liquors in Ferndale. "You should see these people. They're like sheep. They have to have their fix. They should call Charles Schwab and invest their money."

      I thought that comment made in the article was kind of rude. The guy doesn't seem to mind selling tickets and taking these "sheeps" money.

      Perhaps after reading that many of his customers will do just that...


        United States
        Member #379
        June 5, 2002
        11296 Posts
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        Posted: June 5, 2006, 1:17 pm - IP Logged

        The liquor store where I usually buy my Mega Millions tickets has had the new machine in place for about 2 weeks.  I have not seen any problems - but then again I don't go there everyday for pick3/pick4/keno.  One interesting note is that the tickets are now thermally printed instead of with ink.  In fact there is a warning on the reverse about them being sensitive to heat.  I checked out on a loser ticket with a cigarette lighter - yup, turns black right away as soon as the flame gets anwhere close.  I'm wondering if they will darken if left in the dash of the car on a hot day?

        The new machines also print the tickets much faster, and receitps are printed for the customer.  In addition, it has a information dispaly that is turned toward the customer that lets you see how much you won and what you owe.  It should reduce the possibility of an agent cheating a customer of their winnings.

        I'm not 100% sure, but I believe Oklahoma's new lottery has that type of machine.

        About the new machines sensitive to heat-this is the era of Global Warming.

          Avatar

          United States
          Member #1826
          July 11, 2003
          2645 Posts
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          Posted: June 5, 2006, 3:27 pm - IP Logged

          The liquor store where I usually buy my Mega Millions tickets has had the new machine in place for about 2 weeks.  I have not seen any problems - but then again I don't go there everyday for pick3/pick4/keno.  One interesting note is that the tickets are now thermally printed instead of with ink.  In fact there is a warning on the reverse about them being sensitive to heat.  I checked out on a loser ticket with a cigarette lighter - yup, turns black right away as soon as the flame gets anwhere close.  I'm wondering if they will darken if left in the dash of the car on a hot day?

          The new machines also print the tickets much faster, and receitps are printed for the customer.  In addition, it has a information dispaly that is turned toward the customer that lets you see how much you won and what you owe.  It should reduce the possibility of an agent cheating a customer of their winnings.

          I'm not 100% sure, but I believe Oklahoma's new lottery has that type of machine.

          About the new machines sensitive to heat-this is the era of Global Warming.

          It's not the machine that's sensitive too heat, it's the ticket. It's printed on thermal paper.

          And it is the machine used in Oklahoma, it's called the Extrema. It's also used in SC, ME, NH, VT, IA, and CO. 

          (insert signature here)

            dvdiva's avatar - 8ball

            United States
            Member #2338
            September 17, 2003
            2063 Posts
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            Posted: June 5, 2006, 3:31 pm - IP Logged

            "You should see the looks on their faces," said John Christopoulos, an owner of Christo's Discount Liquors in Ferndale. "You should see these people. They're like sheep. They have to have their fix. They should call Charles Schwab and invest their money."

            I thought that comment made in the article was kind of rude. The guy doesn't seem to mind selling tickets and taking these "sheeps" money.

            I would like to see him call Charles Schwab and tell them he has $5 to invest. I'm sure they could tell him exactly where to put that $5.

              chasingadream's avatar - Archangel 01.jpg

              United States
              Member #38687
              May 3, 2006
              315 Posts
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              Posted: June 5, 2006, 5:09 pm - IP Logged

              The liquor store where I usually buy my Mega Millions tickets has had the new machine in place for about 2 weeks.  I have not seen any problems - but then again I don't go there everyday for pick3/pick4/keno.  One interesting note is that the tickets are now thermally printed instead of with ink.  In fact there is a warning on the reverse about them being sensitive to heat.  I checked out on a loser ticket with a cigarette lighter - yup, turns black right away as soon as the flame gets anwhere close.  I'm wondering if they will darken if left in the dash of the car on a hot day?

              The new machines also print the tickets much faster, and receitps are printed for the customer.  In addition, it has a information dispaly that is turned toward the customer that lets you see how much you won and what you owe.  It should reduce the possibility of an agent cheating a customer of their winnings.

              I'm not 100% sure, but I believe Oklahoma's new lottery has that type of machine.

              About the new machines sensitive to heat-this is the era of Global Warming.

              It's not the machine that's sensitive too heat, it's the ticket. It's printed on thermal paper.

              And it is the machine used in Oklahoma, it's called the Extrema. It's also used in SC, ME, NH, VT, IA, and CO. 

              SleepyOh My GoodnessShocked......I never realized that. I just tried it with one of my tickets and it did change colors to black......I have an old Tennessee ticket and the same thing happened to it also.....I could have fainted ThudI will never leave another lottery ticket in the car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              Oogle  waiting patiently for my jackpot


                United States
                Member #379
                June 5, 2002
                11296 Posts
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                Posted: June 5, 2006, 5:56 pm - IP Logged

                I meant to say TICKET, not machine. I've never heard of "thermal" paper, but I know what it is.

                  four4me's avatar - gate1
                  MD
                  United States
                  Member #1701
                  June 18, 2003
                  8362 Posts
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                  Posted: June 5, 2006, 6:21 pm - IP Logged

                  Yea to bad the gamble with schwab is ten times worse than playing the lottery. so is the return.

                  I'll stick with 500 to one and 5000 to one.

                  the only people who benefit from stocks are the brokers even if you lay down big bucks. before I'll let the brokers have my losses. i keep working the lottery.

                  I sent the writer of the article a strong letter about John Christopoulos (sheep remark) if he doesn't like his loyal lottery players maybe he should turn in his machine to someone who wants one and is willing to deal with the changeover. i hope people who may have read the story take their business else where.

                  A lot of Marylanders couldn't play their numbers Friday night and who knows one lucky person might have matched 5 or 6 numbers in the mega draw. If they could have gotten tickets. If anything Christopoulos should have made apologies to his customers on behalf of the Maryland lottery and spent better usage of his words for the people who installed the junk equipment or the lottery personal themselves. The system uses satellite technology and we all know how great that is (yea right) can ya hear me now.

                   

                    justxploring's avatar - villiarna
                    Wandering Aimlessly
                    United States
                    Member #25360
                    November 5, 2005
                    4461 Posts
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                    Posted: June 6, 2006, 12:34 am - IP Logged
                    • Keep your Florida Lottery tickets cool and dry.
                    • The Florida Lottery’s new On-line game tickets are now printed on a high quality thermal paper that will not fade when exposed to normal sunlight. But extreme exposure to UV sunlight rays combined with intense heat should be avoided at all costs .
                    • Lottery tickets should not be exposed to extreme heat from irons, dryers, or windowpanes.
                    • DO NOT laminate Lottery tickets .
                    • Lottery tickets should not be exposed to fatty ingredients such as vegetable oil, butter, or milk. If left exposed for a period of time the fats could destroy the protective layer of the thermal ticket and affect the image quality .
                    • Water may affect thermal tickets if submerged for prolonged periods. If a ticket is damaged, a retailer or Lottery office may still be able to validate your ticket if the barcode or ticket number is legible.
                      mrmst's avatar - disney14
                      Glen Burnie, MD
                      United States
                      Member #427
                      June 27, 2002
                      208 Posts
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                      Posted: June 6, 2006, 7:35 am - IP Logged

                      Thermal paper technology is pretty old.  The company I work for put out it's first microprocessor computer in 1980 and it had a small printer that printed on a roll of thermal paper.  That paper was so sensitive that if you rubbed your finger nail hard and fast across it - there was enough heat produced by the friction to draw a line!  I tried that with the current Maryland lottery ticket paper and nothing happened.  I guess there were some improvements made in the last 26 years.

                      Shocked

                      MrMST

                      Good luck and have a Disney Day ºoºHiding Behind Computer

                        Litebets27's avatar - power
                        Maryland
                        United States
                        Member #10465
                        January 14, 2005
                        6065 Posts
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                        Posted: June 6, 2006, 8:44 am - IP Logged

                        I'm an avid player that uses the multi pick cards to place my lottery picks each day. I don't understand why the company would issue cards that have (straight&box) selection on it but, the machine will not take it. Also, you cannot get advance play on the MegaMillion unless you use the cards.

                        I frequently play lottery at a store, like all of the others, is experiencing long down times and problems with their machines. But the owners will hold your cards or lists and play your numbers when the problems are resolved.

                        I'm glad I don't play at Christo's, because after that statement in the article above, I'd have to rethink my chose of stores to play in. You know when you go into a store and try to play lottery and the cashier acts like you are bothering them. Then don't purchase tickets there! It's their loss.

                        litebets

                        Feeling,  PRICELESS!!!Banana

                        Come on Jackpot!!!

                          loves2lotto's avatar - Lottery-029.jpg
                          Charlotte, North Carolina
                          United States
                          Member #36131
                          March 28, 2006
                          50 Posts
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                          Posted: June 6, 2006, 9:02 am - IP Logged

                          I have that problem here in NC. A couple of places that I have went to and played powerball at have really snotty cashiers. They do act like you are bothering them. If the stores didn't want people to play the lottery then they wouldn't be selling tickets. It really is bad because those are the places within 5 minutes of where I live. I have to find somewhere else to go to. Nice lottery hospitality is the only thing I miss about Indiana.

                          P.S. 

                          I think they are mad because have of them don't know how to use the machines. One girl told me that they didn't take play slips filled out in ink. She was very surprised when it did. All she had to do was read the back. Oh well.

                          I see a huge powerball win in my future!

                                                  Hyper