Phone Glitch Upsets Lottery

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Ohio Lottery wants SBC Ameritech to reimburse it for a phone problem that knocked out more than 1,200 sales terminals on the eve of last month's $165 million Mega Millions drawing.

But it's difficult to calculate the exact cost of the mishap.

"That's a gray area for us," Lottery Director Dennis Kennedy told The Plain Dealer. "You can't really prove what anyone lost."

The problem affected 715 lottery agents in the Toledo area, 359 in Cincinnati and 186 in Dayton. Without their terminals, the agents could not sell or validate tickets.

The problem started on the evening of July 15 and continued through the next morning, the day of the big Mega Millions jackpot, a record for the state.

SBC planned routine network maintenance, figuring it wouldn't affect the lines the lottery uses to operate agents' terminals, according to lottery officials. A technician, however, exceeded the work plans and ran into a glitch, the officials contend.

SBC is working to resolve the issue with the state, company spokesman Greg Connel said.

"We put crews on the problem immediately," Connel said. "We apologize for any inconvenience."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)