"I don't think it erodes confidence in our system," he said. "You read every day about computer systems falling over. With the size and complexity of racing as it is today, I'm surprised there are not more failures. I think that is a tribute to the technology."The Houston hub processes an estimated $2 billion in wagers annually for Fair Grounds, Sam Houston, Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico, Great Lakes Downs and Mt. Pleasant in Michigan, and the Mobile Greyhound Park and Valley Race Park dog track. The hub's equipment was upgraded less than a year ago, and some new hardware and software was installed in February. While the exact reason for the crash is still being investigated, Pierce said the switch to auxiliary power was the trigger.
"We were asked by Sam Houston to switch to auxiliary power because of thunderstorms moving through the area," Pierce said. "Unfortunately, we did."The power was switched. The system crashed, and the thunderstorms never materialized.Bob Bork, vice president and general manager of Sam Houston, said he does not believe the hub's crash had anything to do with the switch to an emergency generator."We use the generator all the time," Bork said. "There were storm warnings. We fired it up and everything was fine. At some point after that, their system got overloaded and shut down."Sam Houston lost an estimated $100,000 in on-track and off-track wagers.The hub has three computers systems backed up by two networks, but none of the backup systems work in real time. So when a program crashes, terminals go dark."It wasn't that the backup didn't work," Pierce said. "It just took some time to catch up. This is an anomaly. I can't remember the last time we had a significant outage."Autotote is changing its policy about when hubs are switch from main power sources to auxiliary power. The final decision now rests solely with the tote company, according to Pierce.
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