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Lottery Orders Review of Lotto Network Following Outage Last Saturday Night

For Immediate Release: 10/16/2003

(Pierre) - The South Dakota Lottery has ordered IGT Online Entertainment Systems (IGT-OES), the Lottery’s vendor for the state’s lotto network, to perform a complete review of the network after it went down for nearly two and half hours last Saturday night.

"We can’t leave our players without the ability to buy tickets," said Clint Harris, executive director of the Lottery. "It’s very frustrating for our players, our retailers, and us, and it makes it all the worse when it happens during a big Powerball jackpot." The Powerball jackpot was $102 million for last Saturday night. No one has yet correctly matched all numbers in the current jackpot run, and the estimated Powerball jackpot for Saturday, October 18, is $140 million.

Communication lines and hardware devices connecting the Lottery to its central lotto computer system in Dover, Delaware, and backup site in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania failed the night of Saturday, October 11, leaving most of the state’s 349 lotto retailers unable to sell tickets from approximately 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (CT).

Saturday’s lotto network outage is the third since early July, and Harris said he ordered that IGT-OES perform a complete review of the lotto network the company provides the Lottery. The results of the review and recommendations for improvement are to be provided to the Lottery no later than October 24.

"After each previous outage, we’ve focused on fixing the specific problem. Now we’re going to review every inch of the network and make any improvements necessary to make it more reliable for our players and retailers."

On Wednesday, July 9, a communications line was cut in Dover, leaving 249 lotto retailers with dedicated connection lines unable to sell tickets for approximately 30 minutes that morning, until those transactions were shifted to the Sharon Hill backup site. Another 96 retailers with dialup connections were unable to sell tickets for nearly 5 hours until their communications were restored to the Dover site. The Lottery is having IGT-OES add a backup system at the Sharon Hill site for retailers with dialup connections.

On Saturday, August 30, telecommunications company equipment in Dover failed, leaving most lotto retailers unable to sell tickets from 4:30 p.m. that Saturday afternoon through the close of games at 9:00 p.m. (CT). The failure at the Dover site caused communications with both the Dover and Sharon Hill sites to fail. A power outage in Dover added to the problem and extended the network outage into Sunday, August 31. The Lottery has had IGT-OES reroute communications lines at the Dover site to ensure diversification at this point of the network.

Saturday’s outage was a result of a communications line to the Dover site and another communications line to the Sharon Hill backup site failing at the same time. While IGT-OES is performing additional monitoring of the lines, network enhancements to prevent a future such occurrence are to be included in IGT-OES’s report to the Lottery. An estimated $25,000 in lotto sales was lost in the two hours the network was down before the games closed at 9:00 p.m. (CT) for the Saturday, October 11 drawing. The estimated lotto sales lost during the August 30-31 outage was $60,000. Because the outage on July 9 was brief for most retailers, overall sales were not affected.

Harris said that while the recent outages are aggravating, they are exceptions to the reliability of the lotto network. "It’s a sophisticated network, but any problems must be kept to an absolute minimum," he said. "What’s happened recently clearly isn’t acceptable to us, our players or our retailers."

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