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Software error stalls validation of some winning D.C. lottery tickets

Washington, D.C. LotteryWashington, D.C. Lottery: Software error stalls validation of some winning D.C. lottery tickets

Glitch delayed winnings for several dozen ticketholders; cause still sought

A mysterious software bug in 17 lottery machines used by the D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board in Washington left several dozen winning instant ticketholders unable to immediately cash their prize tickets last week.

The problem, according to Jay Young, chief operating officer of the lottery board, was tracked to the proprietary software that validates instant tickets with winning numbers, but the exact cause hasn't been determined. The lottery board's other 523 ticket machines were not affected, and winning ticket holders could cash their tickets at those machines. The problem occurred April 30 but was resolved by Monday.

"The glitch was a new bug we had no previous experience with on a very old platform that's cobbled together with chewing gum and baling wire," Young said. The system is an approximately 25-year-old terminal host environment that runs on old Digital Equipment hardware, parts of which date back to 1983, when the agency began operations. There are 13 IT staffers who run the department.

The ticket-validating problem also caused related delays for the lottery's accounting systems because the daily scheduled balancing of the ticket sales and winning payouts wasn't immediately possible.

The lottery board is in the midst of a project to award a new five-year contract to replace its IT systems with modern equipment, Young said. A previous 10-year deal was worth about $120 million, based on a percentage of the lottery board's ticket sales.

The current vendor, Washington-based Lottery Technology Enterprises, is seeking to continue providing IT services, said spokeswoman Ann Walker Marchant. LTE, which partners with gaming transaction processing vendor GTech Corp. in Providence, R.I., has held the contracts for the board's IT services since the lottery began, she said.


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