Lottery machine computer language controversy results in lawsuit

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A controversy that’s been brewing for the last few years in the state’s Limited Video Lottery industry has reached a boiling point, resulting in a lawsuit being filed against the Lottery and a gaming company.

The suit was filed this week by the West Virginia Amusement & Limited Video Lottery Association and others against the Lottery and International Game Technology (IGT) for discontinuing computer language used on video lottery machines.

WVALVLA Co-Executive Director Michael Haid said the businesses purchased 10-year licenses for video lottery terminals in 2011 only to find out less than a year later that IGT was going to change the computer language and the businesses had to either purchase new machines with the new language or pay for a conversion kit. Haid said the bid winners should have been told beforehand.

“It’s hard to tell how much of this is IGT’s fault and how much of it is the Lottery’s fault,” Haid said. “IGT owns ISIS (the older computer language) but we feel like the Lottery and IGT planned to do this, didn’t tell us about it, and planned to ram it down our throats.”

West Virginia Lottery Director John Musgrave has held several meetings with the machine holders in the last few years. IGT originally wanted to change the language by this year but Musgrave negotiated a delay to 2017. The Lottery had no comment on the lawsuit.

Haid said many small businesses that operate the video lottery machines are hurting because they paid a lot of money for the 10-year license and have paid for conversion kits or new machines.

“This didn’t have to happen. It was poor planning on the Lottery’s part or poor planning on IGT’s or both,” he said.

Haid also maintains some of the conversion kits aren’t working.

“They are really hard to set up and the Lottery is having trouble getting them on line so these machines are like paperweight and it’s not good,” he said.

Haid said the permit holders felt they had no other choice but to file the lawsuit.

“Nobody is going to give us our money back unless we put pressure on them to do so,” he said.

The lawsuit was filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

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