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Scores of Net users are counting the cost of a software glitch at online gaming outfit, Tombola.com, after they thought they had scratched their way to a cash prize.

Net gamblers logging on this morning between 8.00am and 10.00am to play Tombola.com's virtual scratch cards must have thought Christmas had come early as they all won prizes.

Some won as much as £200 - a lucky few even won a share of the £5,000 jackpot.

However, the elation of winning was short-lived after they received an email advising them of their rotten luck.

It said: "I'm very sorry to inform you that there has been a major breakdown on our software systems this morning resulting in corrupted and invalid i:scratch game cards being issued. We have therefore had to take the unprecedented step of declaring void all i:scratch games played between 8 am and 10 am Tuesday 15th August."

Phil Cronin, MD of British-based Tombola.com, admitted that it had been a "tough morning". He said Tombola.com would not honour the pay-out insisting that software glitches are covered in the Ts &Cs of the service.

However, as a gesture of "goodwill and by way of apology" he said he was stumping up £10,000 for a prize fund for all those affected this morning. Fifty winners will each receive £200, he said.

He declined to say how many people had been hit by this morning's glitch. ®

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