Camelot rapped over number blunder

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THE National Lottery organisers, Camelot, were yesterday warned that there must not be another blunder following a costly error on the debut of its TV scratchard show.

The Lottery watchdog, Oflot, has taken a firm stance with Camelot, insisting that a serious mishap such as the one which occurred on last night's live show must never happen again. They have told the multi-million pound lottery organisors that no charities must suffer due to the error when the wrong set of balls was fed into a lottery machine prompting another draw to be made after the show had been screened.

The BBC2 programme, called The National Lottery Big Ticket and screened for the first time on Saturday night, has already been criticised for breaching BBC guidelines. The programme, which incorporates the weekly National Lottery draw, depends on people buying TV Dream scratchcards for a chance to be on the show and compete for a pounds 100,000 jackpot.

Oflot has launched an official inquiry into the operation which is estimated will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in extra pay-outs. A spokesman for Oflot said: "We are concerned about what happened and have made it clear to Camelot that this must not happen again. We were also concerned that charities do not suffer, but Camelot is bearing the full cost of the error."

The error was due to a problem with machine number three in the draw when balls numbered between 21 and 40 were used instead of a full set of numbers from 21 to 50, according to a spokeswoman for Camelot. "We did not realise until after the third draw," she said. "Auditors from Oflot and Price Waterhouse were present for another draw after the show which included balls numbered from 21 to 50."

After the first draw, the programme - hosted by Anthea Turner and comedian Patrick Kielty on BBC 1 - went back to its pre-recorded format. The Camelot spokeswoman added: "We will honour both sets of numbers. It will mean that in effect, two sets of numbers were drawn instead of one."

The first set of numbers was 49, 11, 35, and 55, but was later amended to 49, 11, 31, and 55 after the third number was re-selected. Viewers stood to win varying amounts if they had had any of the balls in the right order. They won pounds 10 for the first ball, pounds 50 for the first two, pounds 1,000 for the first three and pounds 50,000 for the fourth.

All extra pay-outs will come out of Camelot profits, but the full extent of the cost will not be known until after the 16-week programme has ended.

Saturday's winning National Lottery numbers were: 11, 13, 23, 28, 29, 37, bonus 8.