The executive director of the California Horse Racing Board said it was he--and not board chairman Richard Shapiro-- who possessed information that tote company Scientific Games had prior knowledge of a computer software glitch that affected "quick-pick" wagers before it was discovered after the running of the Kentucky Derby May 3.
"Right now, we have formally asked them a series of questions and we are awaiting a response," executive director Kirk Breed said of Scientific Games May 22. "Their answers will determine how we proceed."
He said the investigation is tied into Scientific Games' license renewal, which is up for consideration May 31. He said that if the CHRB finds the New York-based company breached its contract, it could also result in a license suspension or fine. Any evidence of wrongdoing would be turned over to a higher agency for possible prosecution.
Breed said several clerks have filed complaints against Scientific Games because of problems they have experienced with the company's wagering terminals.
"It's a very complicated situation," Breed said. "The key part of this is that I told Richard Shapiro that we have it from a source--a very good source in another state--that Scientific Games knew about this (bug) prior to our discovery of it in California."
He said he also advised Shapiro to send an e-mail to Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, so RCI could inform other racing jurisdictions of the snafu.
It was in that May 15 communication that Shapiro told Martin Scientific Games "apparently became aware of the problem in February, but they failed to disclose it to customers or certainly to us in California." In the e-mail, Shapiro went on to say: "I expect if our initial findings are confirmed, an accusation will be filed against Sci. Games."
Bon Smith, assistant executive director of the CHRB who is leading the agency's investigation into the incident, said in a response May 21 that it had not yet been determined exactly when Scientific Games knew of the glitch or if the company had failed to inform California authorities in a timely manner. He told The Blood-Horse that Shapiro had a "proclivity" to sometimes speak before all of the facts are known.
"Bon made a mistake; he should not have said that," Breed said. "If anything, Richard Shapiro has a proclivity for shedding light on what needs to be opened up to public scrutiny."
Breed said he could not provide any further detail on the information he was given by his source because it is a part of the CHRB's ongoing investigation into the quick-pick irregularity in Scientific Games' BetJet equipment, which has been identified as the source of the problem.
On all quick-pick bets, the wagering monitors apparently eliminated the last number of the field from its randomly generated sequence. It was discovered via the Kentucky Derby when a bettor at Bay Meadows purchased 1,300 quick-picks on the race's superfecta and did not have winning horse Big Brown, No. 20, on any of the tickets.