CHRB Seeks Explanation of Past Posting Error

The board is investigating latest Scientific Games wagering glitch.

The California Horse Racing Board is investigating the cause of a wagering glitch during the running of the Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) May 16 at Hollywood Park in which betting at 33 simulcast spots did not close until after the race was completed.

Eual Wyatt Jr., general manager of Hollywood Park, said the "past posting" problem was confined to a single wagering hub and resulted in the refund of less than $100,000 from the total pool to all patrons who wagered on the race from the affected sites. The error, in the ninth race that day, occurred a little more than one hour after the running of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

"This is the first instance of something like this happening to my knowledge (to Hollywood Park)," Wyatt said. "It is being looked into by the appropriate agencies and at some point we'll have some idea what the glitch was."

The CHRB was advised that night by Scientific Games, the totalizator company that processed the wagers, that its "stop betting" order was not transmitted to the locations in question. Among them were Keeneland, Arlington Park, Churchill Downs, Canterbury and several Canadian import sites. A statement released by the board May 20 said that a review of the problem would take place during the June 5 meeting of the CHRB.

"To protect the integrity of the pari-mutual wagering pools at Hollywood Park, the decision was made to 'close-and-clear' those 33 locations, meaning that all wagers from those sites were ejected from the pools, so that nobody gained an unfair advantage. 'Close-and-clear' is a safeguard in place at all racetracks to protect against incidents like this one," the CHRB statement said.

CHRB Executive Director Kirk Breed said representatives of Scientific Games have been asked whether steps are being taken to accommodate customers who would have won their bets if their wagers had been accepted into the host pools. Breed also wants the totalizer company to explain why there was a problem transmitting the stop-betting command to those locations and what is being done to prevent it from happening again.

Attempts to reach a Scientific Games spokesman for a comment were unsuccessful. The past-posting glitch was first reported by Mike Maloney, a Lexington, Ky.-based professional horseplayer and industry watchdog on betting issues, in an article posted on the Horseplayers Association of North America Web site. The Paulick Report posted a follow-up article.

CHRB Chairman John Harris said, “One important thing to remember is that the wagering pools at Hollywood Park were secure. It’s unfortunate that some people who wagered from certain out-of-state sites had those wagers voided and refunded, but our first priority is protecting the integrity of the pools, and from what we’re being told, that was done.”

The California Senate has approved legislation authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) to provide independent oversight of all pari-mutuel horse race wagering in California. SB 662 would require the CHRB to institute real-time monitoring of all pari-mutuel wagering transactions. 

In 2008, a bettor at the former Bay Meadows in San Mateo purchased 1,300 “quick pick” bets for the Kentucky Derby superfecta, in which the first four finishers must match the exact order of an individual $1 ticket.  However, the “20” horse was not included in any of the possible 5,200 spots on the bettor’s tickets. The omitted number was the race favorite and eventual winner, Big Brown.

Scientific Games said that error was the result of a computer glitch which excluded the highest numbered horse in every race from being part of the quick pick pool. The company reached a $200,000 settlement with the California Horse Racing Board over the incident.