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GTech in big trouble

The Lottery has been one fat cock-up

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GTech - the mischievous tech company behind the UK National Lottery and many others in the US - has axed 175 jobs and announced a restructuring at a cost of $45 million (£31 million). This comes after a very shaky period for the company, and more cuts may be on the way following the backlash from the UK Lottery. The Lottery Commission made a stark criticism of GTech's failure to make known a software bug that meant thousands of people didn't get their full lottery award. Its share price has dropped 16 per cent this month alone.

GTech also got rid of its chairman and its chief exec earlier on in the year in the hope of building confidence in the company. That doesn't seem to have worked and it will have to give the ousted execs $11 million in compensation. Doesn't look good, does it?

As for the Lottery itself, it has become a case of farce upon farce. The delayed announcement last week of which of the two bidders would win the seven-year licence went pear-shaped when the Commission said neither had been chosen. It then said it wanted further talks with just one bidder - The People's Lottery. Camelot, the incumbent and GTech partner, was left out.

Camelot moaned. The Commission said that Camelot wasn't out of the picture (?!) when it was. Then Camelot went to the High Court, saying the Commission's decision wasn't fair. And won (?!). It also offered to buy the UK arm of GTech - presumably to improve the strength of its bid and skirt the Commission. GTech has "agreed in principle" - whatever the hell that means, especially coming from who it's coming from.

To recap: we were pretty sure that the Commission's main job was to select which company should run the lottery. Instead, it seems to have gone for the "how best to really cock-up a simple job" approach. What is going on in this country? Decisiveness used to a characteristic of the British. It seems that it is slowly being replaced by stupidity. ®

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