California Bill Seeks Wager Monitoring

California legislation seeks real-time monitoring of pari-mutuel wagering.

A California state senator has introduce legislation seeking real-time monitoring of pari-mutuel wagering, a move prompted by a high-profile technology glitch involving last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

Democratic senator Leland Yee, who introduced the bill Feb. 27, said in a press release that it is “imperative” to protect the integrity of horse racing.

“Hundreds, and potentially thousands, of California consumers may have been defrauded,” Yee said. “Senate Bill 662 will ensure that the Horse Racing Board establishes a real-time transactional monitoring system of all pari-mutuel wagering at California horse tracks.”

Yee’s release specifically references the snafu involving Scientific Games’ BetJets terminals, which for a period of months produced quick-picks tickets that omitted the highest-numbered horse in the field. The situation came to light last May after an unidentified Bay Meadows bettor purchased $1,300 superfecta quick-picks on the Derby, wagers that didn’t include in any leg eventual winner Big Brown, who broke from the outside No. 20 post.

The glitch prompted a federal lawsuit against Scientific Games by California horseman Jerry Jamgotchian, which was later dismissed. The case has been appealed. Scientific Games reached a $200,000 settlement with the California Horse Racing Board over the incident, and have welcomed holders off quick-pick wagers purchased during the period to pursue refunds.

Yee’s bill seeks “real-time transactional monitoring of all pari-mutuel wagering on California horse races,” and requests “independent technology” be implemented to “provide for capturing, saving, transmitting, receiving, and otherwise disseminating technology resources.”

To pay for the monitoring systems, which would be regulated by the CHRB, the bill asks that one-third of a cent be deducted from all advance deposit wagers placed on a California horse race.

In addition to the Bay Meadows incident, Yee’s press release also references the infamous Pick-6 scandal involving the 2002 Breeders’ Cup. There, three former Drexel University fraternity brothers were able to change their wagers in the tote system after certain races in the Pick-6 lineup had been run, and produced the only winning tickets. The trio later pleaded guilty to federal charges arising from the scandal.