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Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 04:40 GMT 05:40 UK
Branson partner 'fined for lottery errors'
lottery
The People's Lottery would have 12 months to install new equipment
The supplier of computer software to Sir Richard Branson's People's Lottery has been fined more than 1m for problems suffered by US state lotteries using its equipment, it has been reported.

Technical hitches encountered by Automated Wagering International (AWI) led to delays in installing lottery systems in the US, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

The fines could hinder Sir Richard's attempt to secure a seven-year British lottery licence. He has a month to prove to the National Lotteries Commission that his consortium can run the world's largest lottery.

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson:Confident of winning the contract
The current operator, Camelot, was ruled out of the race last week over fears about the suppliers of its lottery equipment, GTech.

The People's Lottery will rely on AWI's central computer system, which is intended to be able to cope with thousands of transactions at a time.

Co-ordinator of the People's Lottery bid, Simon Burridge, is reported to have told The Sunday Telegraph that he was aware of delays in installing AWI systems in America.

He is confident there would be no such problems in the UK, according to the paper.

The problems with AWI's American contracts are reported to include faulty software provided for the Maryland lottery, which left the company owing 670,000 to the state government.

Flaw

In addition, a system it installed for the Minnesota lottery failed tests for two years leaving the company liable for 400,000 damages.

Camelot was ruled unfit to run the Lottery for a second time mainly because of problems with GTech.

The commission drew particular attention to a software flaw which was corrected secretly by GTech, in breach of established software change control procedures.

The fault, which had been in place since the beginning of the Lottery and was finally rectified in July 1998, resulted in some winners being underpaid.

queueing for tickets
The lottery raised 1.4bn for good causes lin 1999
Camelot has applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the decision.

The legal challenge has put negotiations between the Lottery Commission and the People's Lottery on hold.

Sir Richard has criticised Camelot's move. He said it would simply delay the process and could threaten the flow of money to charities.

The People's Lottery plans to introduce tickets with 53 numbers instead of 49 to decrease the chances of winning the main jackpot - and so increase the chance of a rollover.

Scratchcards would be revised, and themed around events such as major football competitions, when cards with penalty shootouts would be introduced.

It would also create more millionaires by introducing a subsidiary competition on lottery tickets, and a television show, both guaranteeing 1m prizes.

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See also:

24 Aug 00 | Business
Branson close to lottery coup
24 Aug 00 | UK
Q&A: Lottery bid decision
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