UK National Lottery website down before drawing

Frustrated players unable to buy tickets for the £5 million draw

By Kate Northrop

WATFORD, United Kingdom — A power outage in Watford, a small town 15 miles northwest of London, caused the UK National Lottery website and smartphone app to crash and continue to remain out of action just four hours before the big drawing of £5 million (US$6.2 million) on Wednesday.

The Camelot Group, the operator of the UK National Lottery, houses its headquarters in Watford.

Although the power outage was reported at 6:57 am and restored at 8:39 am, both the website and app were out of commission for a total of nine hours. It wasn’t until around 4 pm when the UK National Lottery announced on Twitter that the website and app had been fixed.

Because online services were unavailable for most of the day, customers were unable to purchase tickets online ahead of the draw. Terminals selling National Lottery tickets in some supermarkets were also reported to have been impacted by the outage.

Players were undoubtedly angry and flocked to Twitter to voice their reactions.

Twitter user BBeachBoundd was concerned that they would be unable to participate in the draw. “Will this be resolved in time to play tonight? I’ve done the same numbers for 15 years & can’t leave the house due to isolation. If my numbers come up I will go insane!”

Others urged the Lottery to postpone the draw to allow players a fair chance to play in the event online services were not restored in time. “This is crazy. I’ve been doing the same numbers every Saturday and Wednesday since 1994,” Twitter user LaineyJ25 remarked. “You should postpone it until tomorrow if you can’t sort out the online problem. It’s not fair.”

In response, The National Lottery announced that there would be no plans to cancel and that the draw would be going ahead as planned, a decision later warranted in the eventual restoration of online services.

In the meantime, The National Lottery provided reassurance by responding to individual customer inquiries via Twitter and Facebook.  “We are working to get services back up and running as quickly as possible and are really sorry for any inconvenience caused,” one of their tweets read.

Several customers were dismayed that Camelot did not resolve the problem sooner or that there were no preparations in place for this sort of event. According to DownDetector, an independent website that tracks online outages and issues, 565 people complained about the National Lottery’s problem every minute at its peak.

Other users stepped up to defend those working to fix the issue, citing the current COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for the delay. “The technicians and workers fixing [the outage] need to stick to COVID-19 guidelines as well as fix the problem,” Twitter user whiplash294 commented. “Of course its going to take longer than it usually would.”

Regardless of tensions caused, the draw ended up occurring at 8:00 pm with no jackpot winner on Wednesday night. The winning numbers drawn were 23, 29, 32, 48, 49, and 51, with Bonus number 13. The jackpot increased to £7 million (US$9 million) for the Saturday, May 9, drawing.

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