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GTECH lottery systems built to handle blackout

Aug 19, 2003, 3:40 am

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IGTIGT: GTECH lottery systems built to handle blackout

If someone you know bought a lottery ticket in Ohio, Michigan or New York in the seconds before the power went out Thursday, don't worry.

That ticket is valid, and could still win a zillion dollars.

GTECH Holdings Corp. of West Greenwich runs the lotteries in all three states, and its job is to keep those state lottery systems up and running -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

So Thursday, when the power went out, GTECH's systems in all three states automatically switched the lottery data centers -- the computer centers that hold all the information on ticket purchases -- to backup power generators, according to Robert Vincent, a spokesman for GTECH.

The company's contracts require that GTECH have backup power and an emergency plan for every system they run, said Vincent. The company "anticipates any incident" that could take place and builds the lottery systems to handle them, he said.

Consequently, this week, no lottery sales were lost, or dropped, or misplaced, in Ohio, Michigan or New York, he said. So all lottery tickets bought seconds before the lights went out were recorded, and could still be winners.

"The minute it's purchased . . . it's recorded," said Vincent. "[There's an] instant connection to the central system."

But just because the central lottery computers remain up and running doesn't mean that lottery tickets can be sold. Each retail location -- such as a 7-Eleven or Store 24 -- run the lottery ticket terminals off its own power. So, if the store doesn't have electricity, they can't sell tickets -- even though the state's central lottery system could support sales, said Vincent.

And that affects not only each state's revenue, but GTECH's as well.

Last year, New York's lottery had $5 billion in sales, Ohio had $2 billion and Michigan about $1.7 billion. GTECH's fee is a cut of those sales, and last year GTECH made $50 million on the New York contract, $20 million in Ohio, and $30 million in Michigan. The sooner all the retailers get up and running, the faster both the lottery and GTECH, can get sales back on track.

As of yesterday afternoon, about 50 percent of lottery retailers in affected areas of Ohio were still without power, said Vincent. About 50 percent of the retailers remained down in Michigan and 30 percent were still off line in New York.

GTECH's stock rose 6 cents yesterday to close at $41.07 per share, a new 52-week high.

Providence Journal

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