CHRB Seeks Answer for Mistaken Pick 5 Payoff

Totalizer company to review takeout computations on Pick 5 wagers after error noted.

The California Horse Racing Board is following up on a discrepancy in the payoff for a Sept. 16 Pick 5 payout from Fairplex Park to make sure that no bettors were shorted as the result of takeout computation errors.

Sportech, the totalizator company that serves California and other racing jurisdictions, has acknowledged that it assessed the incorrect takeout rate for the Pick 5 payoff to an Emerald Downs bettor, the CHRB said in a press release Sept. 21.

The CHRB was notified of a potential problem Sept. 17 by a patron at Emerald Downs, who had noticed the discrepancy in the Pick 5 payout posted at Emerald Downs ($1,118.15) compared with the payout posted on the simulcast program from Fairplex Park ($1,282.50).

The Pick 5 is a reduced 14% takeout wager introduced by Betfair Hollywood Park in April 2011 that has since been offered by most California racing associations and fairs. The normal takeout would be 23.68% on a multi-race wager, 25.02% if adjusted for net-pool pricing at California fairs. The winning ticket at Emerald Downs, it was determined, was assessed at the 25.02% takeout rate.

Fortunately, the error was caught in time and the bettor was paid the correct amount, the CHRB reported.

An initial review by Sportech indicates the problem was isolated to wagers placed in the state of Washington on the Pick 5 offered during the first eight days of the Fairplex meet. Sportech reported that during that period there was just the one winning Pick 5 ticket on Fairplex races sold and cashed in Washington.

The CHRB said it is requiring Sportech to review all takeout rates for the Pick 5 applied for all racing jurisdictions since April 2011 to confirm this was an isolated incident.

According to Sportech, the correct takeout has been applied since the error was discovered. Still, the CHRB is requiring the more comprehensive review to ensure that is the case.

The CHRB said it has asked Sportech for a time frame on the review of Pick 5 takeout rates, a clear explanation of how the error occurred, and the steps being taken to prevent this error from occurring again.

If it were determined that similar errors were made in other jurisdictions or for other meets, the CHRB would require Sportech to establish a process for settling claims from bettors who could establish they had been shorted in payoffs. For example, in cases where payoffs were substantial, bettors could present IRS withholding documentation.