TRA Adopts Wagering Protocol Measures

Past-posting, late odds shifts are discussed.

Past-posting and late odds changes are major issues in racing, but more of perception than reality, Thoroughbred Racing Associations' executive vice president Chris Scherf said the morning of Aug. 22 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Scherf said in the past 18 months, 90,000 races have been run in North America with only eight episodes of a "significant time lapse" between the off time and when wagering closes, known as past-posting.

"We simply do not feel there is a problem of past-posting," Scherf said. The bigger issue, he said, is that bettors and fans complain regularly about odds changing after a field leaves the gate.

"Late odds shifts are bedeviling everyone, and there is a confluence of factors affecting late odds shifts," Scherf said.

Scherf said he could assure bettors that the "stop betting command" is working well, but that the problem is twofold: money is still being received into the pools; and the providers of video are often not synced with the tote system.

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At a meeting of TRA board members Aug. 21, three things were adopted dealing with time syncing protocol: that the tote and video would be synchronized daily to an atomic clock; that the off time would be displayed on video with hour, minute, and second; and that the video time would be re-synced every 60 minutes.

As Scherf explained, there is a forced odds cycle done 10 seconds after a race begins, with most dollars wagered appearing in the pools by that time. However, some money does still arrive later, causing odds changes during races that upset bettors.

Some have discussed discontinuing wagering before the horses enter the gate, but Scherf said there is little sentiment for that.

"We have lots of late money being wagered now. Why? Because we can," Scherf said.

Scherf said many tracks see half of their wagering coming within a few minutes of post, and more importantly, computer wagering teams—mostly large offshore bettors searching for value and making big bets at the last possible second—account for about 15% of handle now.

"There will be a big loss of wagering dollars," if betting is closed before the horses enter the starting gate, Scherf said.