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HELENA (AP) – The electronic system designed to monitor Montana’s thousands of video gambling machines works and is ready to be installed, a lawyer insisted Monday on behalf of two Nevada companies.

Montana regulators say the companies have failed to develop the system as promised.

“Our position is that the system is ready to be installed and, in fact, Montana officials came down in June and the system was demonstrated,” Brad Van Ry, attorney for Lodging and Gaming Systems Inc. and GAMET Inc., said. “They know that it’s ready to be installed.”

The companies have filed their own suit in Reno charging that Montana gambling officials lied to them about which poker and keno machines would have to use the software at the heart of the new system.

That suit was filed June 1, but state officials never disclosed it. The Justice Department sued the two companies Friday.

Gene Huntington, administrator of the Gambling Control Division, said the issue raised in the companies’ lawsuit is not based on anything in the contract signed with the state.

The complaint said the Montana officials promised that any video gambling machines brought into the state after Jan. 1, 2001, would have to connect to the monitoring system using specified communication software. Six months later, the suit said, Montana officials changed their minds.

“As a result of GCD’s (Gambling Control Division) refusal to keep its promises pertaining to the communications protocol, LGS has refused to deliver the completed products, software and hardware,” the companies said.

Huntington said the state never made the promise claimed in the suit.

The complaint accuses Montana regulators of fraud, malice and false representations. It claims the state conspired with video gambling machine maker International Game Technology Inc. to entice Lodging and Gaming Systems into a contract and then violated that contract to harm the company.

The suit asks for at least $10,000 in actual damages and an unspecified amount of punitive damages.

Huntington said the state has asked that the Nevada case be thrown out. He said the contract between the state and the companies requires any contract disputes be settled in a Montana court.

Copyright © 2001, Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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