Press Room

Communications Disruption Knocks Out Lotto Sales In Four Northwest Iowa Counties

Crews Working To Re-Establish Communications To Retail Locations

DES MOINES, Iowa - Lottery terminals in some northwest Iowa businesses are out of service today as the lottery and its system provider work to re-establish communications with those locations.

"Over the weekend, a situation developed involving 48 retail locations in northwest Iowa," Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said. "From an overall perspective, that's just 2 percent of our retail base, but we're working as quickly as possible with our communications providers to get things back up and running."

The communications disruption has taken out of service lottery terminals in 48 retail locations in Lyon, Osceola, Sioux and O'Brien counties. The impacted locations have been unable to sell lotto tickets or cash lotto or instant-scratch tickets. Pull-tab tickets are not impacted, as they are not cashed on the terminal.

The Iowa Lottery's sales and validations system is a huge network that spans in the entire state and involves thousands of communications connections to provide real-time transactions at terminals in more than 2,300 retail locations. Iowa Lottery terminals operate via satellite or cellular communications links.

"Our understanding is that over the weekend, cell towers in northwest Iowa that had been owned by one provider were sold to another. The change knocked out of service 48 lottery terminals that were connected to those towers." Rich said.

The outage started at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Five of the locations have been switched to satellite hook-ups and are back online, but 43 locations remain out of service.

"Running any type of communications system will involve hiccups along the way - think about the outages you have at home with your computer or your telephone. The lottery is no different in that regard," Rich said. "Our system provider has brought in additional installation crews to work with these retailers as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience our customers and retailers are experiencing while we work on this situation."

In three of the impacted counties, a mix of satellite and cellular communications connections are involved, so there are some retailers there that are able to sell and cash tickets. However, the 12 lottery outlets in Lyon County are all on cellular connections, so no retailers there have been able to sell lotto tickets or cash lotto or instant-scratch tickets.

"Each of the retailers involved in this situation has been contacted and we'll do our best to continue to keep them updated," Rich said.