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Updated: 5:36 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012 | Posted: 4:36 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012

Online lottery off to slow start in Georgia

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By Jill Vejnoska

First, none of us won Saturday night’s ginormous $325 million Powerball jackpot. Then the lazybones gambler’s dream, online ticket sales, wasn’t easy to find on the Georgia Lottery’s website Sunday.

Sigh. Could it have gotten any worse to be a lottery player here this weekend?

Uh, yes. Just when the Powerball jackpot had rolled over to a record $425 million Sunday, ticket sales machines appeared to go down in much of metro Atlanta Sunday afternoon.

At 6 p.m. the Georgia Lottery responded to numerous requests for information with a brief statement acknowledging issues with “a few retailers.”

A later statement said the lottery “is in the process of implementing” online sales and provided a link, mygalottery.com.

Things had seemed to be humming along late last week when the lottery said online sales would begin on Sunday with Powerball, Mega Millions and Fantasy 5. The expansion would coincide with the launch of the lottery’s new debit card, to be used for online and, eventually, retail transactions.

Dubbed the “iHope” card, it would allow players to preload funds, buy tickets and have their winnings automatically downloaded into the card’s account.

But information about iHope or online sales on galottery.com was hard to find on Sunday.

Worse, lottery terminals weren’t dispensing tickets during spot checks in various parts of Atlanta. Around noon, an employee of the Sam’s Mart on Howell Mill Road told an AJC photographer that machines were down all over the state.

As for the multi-state Powerball, officials say the $425 million prize up for grabs in the next drawing will be the largest jackpot ever for the game.

The previous top Powerball prize was $365 million, won in 2006 by ConAgra Foods Workers in Lincoln, Neb.

The Powerball numbers for Saturday were 22-32-37-44-50, and the Powerball was 34.

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