Plug pulled on Pronto

Pronto, the rapidly-repeating online lottery game run by Inter Lotto, has been suspended following a dispute with BT over the network.

It looks unlikely that the controversial game – which the Government has vowed to outlaw – will be revived, though Roy Fisher, Inter Lotto managing director, says the company is considering its options.

The 370 Pronto terminals in pubs around England were switched off last Friday by MMK, the operating company which installs the machines and runs the online system through an office in Slough. None of MMK’s directors can be contacted, and an answer machine says the game has been suspended because of “severe problems with the network”.

According to Fisher, MMK is in dispute with BT because the lines linking the terminals to the head office did not work consistently. The contract between MMK and BT officially came to an end on Friday.

A BT spokesman says: “BT is confident it has fulfilled its part of the contract and would vigorously defend any claims to the contrary.”

Fisher comments: “The game has been suspended, but if you ask me for how long, I cannot tell you.”

If Pronto is not revived, it will represent significant losses to investors, which are believed to have staked up to 30m on the venture. One big loser could be American property developer Eliot Bernard, who is a key investor in the game. Other investors include Crown Leisure, which has so far put in 467,000.

Pronto appointed M&C Saatchi at the end of last year to handle its advertising, though the proposed 10m campaign never materialised.

Pronto is played every five to 15 minutes, and offers prizes including a 25,000 jackpot. A spokeswoman for the Home Office says the Government is still planning to curb rapidly repeating online lotteries in pubs, though she was unaware that Pronto had been suspended.

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