Retailers call for Lotto inquiry over new ticket terminals

Technical glitches have caused drop in sales, retailers claim

Retailers claim the new Lotto ticket terminals, touted in advance as state of the art, are plagued by technical glitches, causing them to crash frequently. Photograph: istock

Retailers claim the new Lotto ticket terminals, touted in advance as state of the art, are plagued by technical glitches, causing them to crash frequently. Photograph: istock

 

Retailers have called on the lottery regulator to intervene in a row over the system’s new technology platform which they say is causing a drop in sales and service levels.

Barely two months after taking charge of the National Lottery, the new operator, Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), is in hot water over its handling of an agreed systems upgrade. Retailers say the company’s new ticket terminals, touted in advance as state of the art, are plagued by technical glitches, causing them to crash frequently.

They also complain the machines, supplied by Greek gaming firm Intralot, regularly fail to scan barcodes and are not interfaced with self-service ticket checkers, causing long delays in shops.

The Retail Grocery Dairy and Allied Trades Association (RGDATA) said a survey of its members found 73 per cent had reported a drop in lotto sales since the switchover, while 72 per cent claimed to have suffered a loss of service as a result of the new machines. “Retailers are frustrated at the disruption and inconvenience that the switchover is causing them and their customers,” the group’s director general Tara Buckley said.

Immediate investigation

She called on the newly appointed National Lottery regulator, Liam Sloyan, who has only been in the job two months, to carry out an immediate investigation of service levels on the switchover and “to take steps to ensure that the investment required to support a major project of this nature is committed”.

PLI admitted there had been some “settling in” problems with the new technology, but insisted that for the majority of retailers the machines were working “very effectively”. It said it had identified some delays in response times on a minority of terminals, which use camera technology to read barcodes. However, the company said it planned to download a software adjustment to remedy the problem within the next seven days.

PLI said the self-service ticket checkers would not be re-programmed to interface with the new terminals until the end of February because it was required to validate prize claims for 90 days for tickets sold under the previous licence. Retailers have also complained that response times from PLI’s technical support team are too slow and that some calls are going unanswered.

1,000 calls per day

The company said that in the first two weeks of December it had been receiving an average 1,000 calls per day “as retail staff familiarised themselves with the new machines”.

“The very high call rate did mean that retailers terminated calls because they were on-hold for too long.”

However, it said it had now diverted more resources to its contact centre and that since the start of January it was answering all calls with an average waiting time of 17 seconds.

After winning the licence, the PLI consortium, comprising An Post and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), owners of British operator Camelot, hired Intralot to overhaul the lottery’s ageing technology, as per the terms of sale.

While the financial terms of the contract have not been disclosed, they are thought to significantly undercut the fees paid to previous technology supplier, Gtech.

OTPP, which funded most of the €405 million outlay for the licence, wants to use Ireland as a model to expand into other gaming markets, via Camelot’s global arm.