Penn Refunds Pools in Past-Posting Incident

Wagers on a May 20 race at Penn National were accepted after the race began.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course refunded more than $150,000 in wagers after a communications router failure at its main wagering hub went down, leaving the second race May 20 open for betting after off time.

In all, $152,712 was refunded to bettors at the Pennsylvania track and any outlets that take the Penn National signal.

It was second time in a week wagering at a racetrack remained available after off time. Hollywood Park in California had such an incident May 16.

Penn National director of racing Rob Marella said May 21 the main communications router that links Penn National to its Portland, Ore., wagering hub maintained by United Tote went down right before or right at the start of the race. In turn, the judges’ stop-wagering function didn’t work, and the standard backup procedure of the on-site tote operator didn’t function.

Marella said the router backup was initiated, but it can take one to two minutes to restart all links. More than four minutes elapsed from the start of the race until the mutuel pools were closed at all wagering outlets, he said.

“From our initial discussions with United Tote, there was an indication that wagers were made after the start of the race,” Marella said. While we were only able to see individual wagers from within our own United Tote network, there was a strong probability that wagers were also made at other outlets after the start of the race as well.

“The process of being able to identify all such wagers would have taken a significant amount of time, and still may not have fully identified all such wagers given discrepancies on time stamps from different tote companies. Therefore, a decision was made by Penn National management to refund all wagers on the race.

“We understand the decision to refund all wagers was not popular, but we felt that given the information at that time and the potential of not identifying all such potential past-post wagers, that the fairest option to all bettors was this option.”

The race in question never was made official and payoffs weren’t calculated and posted, but track officials indicated there was “confusion as to information” indicating the race had been mad official.

“A judges’ inquiry was called on the race and placed on the tote board; however, there was erroneous information given verbally and graphically that the race was official,” Marella said. “This was not the case, and we apologize for the confusion. We are very cognizant of the recent issues regarding past-posting, and we feel strongly in terms of providing transparency regarding the issues involved and the decisions made regarding this matter.”

Past-posting refers to wagers made after a race begins.

Penn National officials said they immediately notified the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau Wagering Integrity unit and the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission concerning the past-posting incident.