I have known Camelot for as long as it has existed; indeed I went to the launch party and got the T-shirt. Almost every retailer I have spoken to since on the subject either appreciated having the lottery in their store, or wanted it.

The games provide retailers with a margin worth having, friendly footfall and the benefit of being branded a 'lucky store' if someone wins something even a little bit significant.

And Camelot has guarded its privileged position with outstanding vigilance. It chooses its agents carefully it isn't the luck of the draw whether you get a terminal or not and it monitors your position regarding underage sales. If you set a foot wrong, you're out.

All well and good, but I do feel aggrieved when Camelot takes the punters' part over the agent's when the evidence looks somewhat contrary. I'm still banging on about the story from our last issue where I recounted the fate of Sriharan Rajan who says his machine froze up, leading to him not paying out £40 until after the machine started behaving again. He spent £2,500 on legal fees to try to get his terminal back after Camelot got tough, but to no avail.

As soon as this story came out I had two retailers on the phone with similar tales but no real consequences because their customers did not complain.

Baz Patel runs Molly's in Luton. His machine froze back during the snows and because it happened at the same time as a shift change, the store paid out for both the win (£10) and the cost of the ticket.

Londis retailer Barrie Seymour tried to validate two tickets for a punter. One went through fine but the other didn't. "The machine shut down, turned itself off." Later it spat out a £75 win. "I hung on to it and three weeks later the same customer came back and I gave him the money. He was grateful."

Barrie knows a thing or two about computers and he adds: "The newer machines are slower and unreliable."

'The customer is always right' is a retailing mantra except, of course, they are not.

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