The Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau publicly acknowledged Dec. 17 its work on a “tote-enhancing initiative designed to address fan concerns with pari-mutuel wagering and improve efficiency and security in the future.”
The plan includes what officials with the TRPB and its parent, the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, call a “technically-innovative and effective strategy to facilitate stop-betting across the entire pari-mutuel network at the start of every race.” Shifts in odds just before races begin or during races have been a major concern for horseplayers.
The TRA and TRPB boards met the week of Dec. 7 in Tucson as part of the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing and Gaming. At that time, TRA executive vice president Chris Scherf told The Blood-Horse a tote-related project was under way, and that the two boards most likely would move forward during their annual meeting in March 2010.
Funding already has been approved to form a business plan for what is called the “TRPB Tote Security Initiative.”
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance is adding wagering security to its code of standards in 2010. NTRA officials said the TRA and TRPB would be involved in developing protocol; Scherf during the symposium said he had heard the same but hadn’t been contacted yet.
During the International Simulcast Conference in October, TRA and TRPB officials contended incidents of “past-posting”—placing wagers after “off” time of a race—are few and far between. But they acknowledged the perception among bettors may be quite different.
“As TRPB’s Wagering Integrity Unit has been increasingly called upon to review wagering associated with races involving some type of tote protocol communication failure, the need to proactively address these matters through the development of enhanced tote security measures is apparent,” TRPB president Frank Fabian said in a statement.
Details of the plan remain under wraps, but Fabian said there are ongoing talks with industry service providers and the four United States-based tote companies.
Fabian said the technical solution proposed by the TRPB would operate on a parallel path but outside of the current inter-tote system protocol, enabling an independent redundancy to certain race-day control functions. Wagering data collected by tote-security devices will enable the TRPB to produce and distribute real-time decimal win-odds to host tracks for video display, an upgrade officials have said is necessary.
The TRPB Wagering Analysis Unit has been reviewing information from daily wagering for races at all TRA member tracks. The system looks for betting anomalies that could be investigated by the TRPB if needed.