Lottery operator Camelot crashed for four hours

The British national lottery operator Camelot had the embarassing problem of explaining a four hour computer crash Saturday which deprived many would-be lotto players of the opportunity to take a ticket, either in retail outlets or over the Internet.

A Camelot spokesman insisted there was no question of the draws being postponed to allow disappointed players to obtain tickets, and all games went ahead as normal including the main Lotto draw with a GBP 3.1 million jackpot.

"The rules, terms and conditions are clear. People have to be in the draw to win a prize. We have been selling tickets all week and earlier on Saturday morning," he said. "We do, however, apologise for any inconvenience caused. It is too early to speculate on the potential impact on sales."

The spokesman told The Telegraph newspaper that the fault had been "intermittent" and added that he was unable to say how many terminals had been affected.

Carole Machin, presenter of the draw in BBC One's programme National Lottery: In It To Win It, made an on-air apology to customers who had been affected.

The Telegraph reports that the current breakdown is one of the most wide-ranging technical failures since the Lottery was launched in 1994. Lost ticket sales will also mean that the Lottery's "good causes" will suffer a fall in the amount of cash distributed from takings.

A system error prevented retailers across the country from printing off tickets. In central London last night, players were greeted with signs saying terminals were "unavailable".

A message to customers on the National Lottery website said the main Lotto draw, Euro Millions, Thunderball, Dream Number, Daily Play and Lotto Hot Picks were all unavailable to online gamers.

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