Progress on Wagering Issues Shared with Regulators

A self-described horror story told by a fellow regulator provided dramatic background for a discussion on wagering security and integrity issues held April 25 during the Association of Racing Commissioners International annual conference.

John Cansdale, executive director of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, related to conference attendees at the Snake River Lodge in Jackson Hole, Wyo., how a series of errors allowed for bets to be made during a race run last September at Saratoga Harness Track.

At the appointed time, Cansdale said, the judge hit the keyboard to close wagering, but for some still-unexplained reason, the pools remained open. At the same time, the on-site tote employee saw the race going, but his computer display said there was still one minute to post, so the employee, who later said the screen malfunction was caused by a pen being stuck in his keyboard, didn’t react.

After realizing the pools had been open the entire race, track officials did a quick investigation, determined that only two bets – both losing – had been placed during the race, and declared the race results official.

The NYSRWB launched its own investigation, and determined that multiple bets were made during the race. The biggest frustration, Cansdale said, is that no one had a good explanation for exactly what went wrong.

“The long and short is that entire system broke down – technology and the human element,” Cansdale said. “You would assume that it would have been picked up somewhere along the way. This is one more plug for an independent monitoring system that would probably have picked up on one or more of these errors.”

Wagering security and integrity have been industry buzz words since the 2002 Breeders' Cup Pick 6 fraud in which individuals accessed wagering pools via computer.

James Coil, vice president of engineering for The Jockey Club, updated regulators on the effort to launch the joint-venture Wagering Transmission Protocol, which is designed to provide a model for tote transactions, efficiencies, and related security.

Coil said a year-long pilot program of the protocol is in the works, and would include a 30-day test run at a single host track working with four guest totes in at least two countries (with one likely being Woodbine). He said it would cover all race cards and all pools.

“We need to take a conservative approach and make sure it works in a real world situation – all the paperwork and meetings will never prove anything until it is put into practice,” he said.

RCI has developed with corporate partners a wagering monitoring program under the non-profit entity RCI Integrity Services, and has separately enlisted Gaming Laboratories International to develop a testing program for totalizator systems.

Kevin Mullally, general counsel and director of government affairs for GLI, said model rules adopted April 24 by RCI were a step in the right direction.

“RCI developed a template yesterday,” said Mullally, a former executive director with the Missouri Gaming Commission. “They are similar to those to in effect in South Africa, which is highly-regulated.”

RCI president and CEO Ed Martin said a monitoring program contracted by is still ready for a June launch. The Youbet agreement was the first secured by RCI Integrity Services, but hopefully not the last, Martin said.

“There are additional customers we are in negotiations with, including racetracks and tote companies,” he said, declining to provide names due to ongoing negotiations.

The RCI annual conference is scheduled to run through April 27.

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