Ohio Lottery operator switch has some glitches

Jul 1, 2009, 7:41 pm (4 comments)

Ohio Lottery

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A new company began running the Ohio Lottery's computer system on Wednesday, causing frustrating problems for some retailers and leaving some winning tickets incorrectly coming up as losers.

Lottery spokeswoman Marie Kilbane said the problems were being worked out.

"What we saw early were mostly common problems we had predicted, such as some calls from retailers who had forgotten sign-on passwords. But overall, selling has been going well," Kilbane said.

The Ohio Lottery decided last year to change its operator from GTech, a Providence, R.I.-based company that had been the vendor since 1985, to Athens, Greece-based Intralot S.A., the parent company of Intralot Inc., based near Atlanta.

GTech sued over the change, arguing that Intralot had no experience operating a large state lottery. Franklin County Common Pleas Judge John Bender ruled in March that the Ohio Lottery director acted lawfully.

To make the switch, online lottery games were unavailable from late Tuesday until 6 a.m. Wednesday.

By mid-afternoon, 7,920 of the state's 8,800 retailers had logged on, Kilbane said. An Intralot hot line had 2,300 calls by then.

Kilbane said the difficulty in cashing winning tickets was caused by the new system not reading serial numbers the same way as the old system. The lottery was advising retailers how to work around the problem.

Lottery sellers also reported some tickets were marked void and not for sale, even though they were valid game plays, she said.

At Simply Foods convenience store in Cleveland, owner Ashok Patel said his lottery terminal was down for about two hours Wednesday morning.

"There was an error message indicating a communications failure. It means our machine was not communicating with the main computers," he said.

Technicians arrived to reset the machine, and after that it was up and running.

"It is a learning experience for both the customer and the retailer," he said.

At Izzy's Deli in Cleveland, clerk Courtney Elliott said her sales terminal was no problem, but a ticket scanner for customers wasn't working.

She said she was busier than normal helping lottery customers who told her they couldn't find another lottery retailer able to do business.

"I'm losing a lot of business," said Zack Nakouzi, manager of Lottery Express in Toledo. "I lost $300 just screwing around with this machine."

The biggest problem, he said, is that his machine would stop fully printing after about five transactions, forcing him to reboot and start all over.

"I'm telling my customers to come back," he said. "They're cussing me out. What can I do?"

He said calls to the lottery weren't helpful and that a technical support phone number had gone unanswered.

Ohio Lottery Director Michael Dolan said he understands the frustration.

"Change is difficult for anybody," he said. "This is new equipment with a new operator and some new procedures. Once they become familiar with the features of the new system, I think they will say this is much faster and easier to use."

Edd Gibson, whose lottery outlet at his carryout store in North Canton was drawing more than 40 customers an hour Wednesday morning, said he was concerned that the switch would be troublesome, but had just a brief glitch with a scanner that went down.

"I thought we'd have a big problem with this, but so far I'm happy with the way it's running. It's a little different," he said.



RJOh's avatarRJOh

Last night when I played MegaMillions since the old play slips were still in the display rack, I asked the clerk if they would work today and she said "yes".   Today I went in with a MegaMillions 0+1 ticket to cash and play some Classic Lotto, the terminal scanned my winning ticket and nothing, it couldn't read tickets printed by the old terminals.  I said forget it, I like to play these Classic Lotto slips and again nothing, the new terminal couldn't read old play slips either so I made out some new ones which had only been put out this morning. 

I went to another retailer and they cashed in my winning ticket by punching in its serial numbers and I bought a couple of AP(auto plays - no longer quick picks).  I feel sorry for anyone who has a bunch of old tickets to check if they can't find a clerk with the time to punch in the serial numbers of each one of them by hand.

bashley572's avatarbashley572

RjOh thanks for the update.  So that sounds about normal for the kind of MAJOR switch your state went through.

RJOh's avatarRJOh

I have a facsimile of the boards on the play slips of the games I play in my lottery program so I can check  my play slips as I mark them and now I've updated them with the new layouts.  The new cards will require those players who use printing software to print their slips to do the same.

RJOh's avatarRJOh

First two places I went tonight to play my MM tickets, the clerks claimed their machine were broken.  I found that hard to believe since those machines were new and just came on line three days ago.  I suspect they were confused about how to use them and and just said that to get rid of me since they were the only one there.  At the place that did run them the clerk asked if I had the newer play slips because she had trouble earlier in the night before she became aware that the new machine couldn't read the old play slip.

End of comments
Subscribe to this news story