DELAWARE - Del. Paid for Y2K Slots Glitch, Computer Malfunction Affected 800 of 3,600 Machines : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Title: Del. is Paid for Y2K Slots Glitch

Computer Malfunction Shut Down 800 of 3,600 Machines

By PATRICK JACKSON Dover Bureau reporter 04/26/2000

Officials for the state and WMS Gaming Inc. have closed the book on the nation's best-known Y2K glitch.

State Finance Secretary John Carney on Tuesday said WMS paid the state about $1.05 million for a computer malfunction that shut down more than 800 of the state's 3,600 slot machines on Dec. 29. It took until Jan. 7 to get all the machines back online.

The machines, which are leased from WMS, are at Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Raceway.

To ensure the settlement was distributed fairly, Carney said the state used its standard formula for slot profits over that period.

That meant WMS got almost $43,000 back.

"Using the formula was the best way we could come up with to divide the money," Carney said. "Under the formula, they get a share [of the money] along with the racetrack purses, the tracks and the lottery."

The computer glitch happened when a state lottery computer, used to track the money gambled on the slots, issued a standard three-day authorization that would have allowed the machines to operate through New Year's Day.

Computers in the slot machines read the date as Jan. 1, 1900, instead of Jan. 1, 2000, and shut down.

The incident attracted international attention and was believed to be the nation's worst problem associated with the computer calendar turnover.

The lottery, which oversees operations of the slot machines, hired two outside accounting firms, Ernst & Young and Simon, Masters & Sidlow, to work out the amount that was lost.

"We worked to come up with a fair estimate," Carney said. "But it was a holiday and we wanted to err on the high side of fair. We think we got a substantial, but fair settlement from this."

Carney said the lottery and officials from Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway had been involved in the settlement discussions.

"We did not do this in a vacuum," he said. "We wanted to make sure we had agreement from our partners and make sure everyone was satisfied so we wouldn't have outside litigation complicating the settlement talks."

Joe Jaffoni, a spokesman for WMS, said he was aware that settlement talks were under way, but he had not been told a settlement had been reached.

Officials at Delaware Park, which saw more than 300 of its 1,900 slot machines fail because of the glitch, could not be reached for comment.

Ellsworth Gaskill, Dover Down's general manager for slot operations, also said he was unaware a settlement had been reached. Dover Downs lost 300 of its 1,500 machines because of the bug.

He credited the company for being willing to work out an arrangement with the state.

"It's good to see a company take responsibility for a problem it created and should have known about without too much litigation," he said "I'm glad the lottery was able to get this issue resolved."

Reach Patrick Jackson at 678-4274 or send an e-mail.


-- (, April 26, 2000

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