Tote, Security Standards Expected to Have Some Teeth

Wagering outlets and tote providers that fail to comply with security and technological upgrades mandated by the proposed National Office on Wagering Security will find themselves on the outside looking in, officials said Dec. 12 as the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing wrapped up business for 2004.

Security, return of revenue to racing, and pricing dominated the final panel discussions of the symposium held in Tucson. There were no definitive answers, but surely strong indications change is on the way.

Jim Quinn, the handicapper and author who heads the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Players' Panel, noted the progress made in the wake of the Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6 fraud of 2003. As the office is created and a chief security officer hired, the pari-mutuel industry will be faced with new operating standards.

"There will be compliance audits," Quinn said. "If (participants) don't comply, they will be eliminated from the system."

An NTRA official said after the presentation betting outlets and tote companies would be given time to comply with the standards, and if they fail to do, product providers -- the racetracks and horsemen -- could very well end up pulling the plug on signals. It isn't clear how much power the compliance audits will have, or what will be asked, but industry leaders apparently mean business.

The Jockey Club recently signed a deal with Scientific Games, parent company of Autotote, to work on database matters. The other major tote providers in the United States are AmTote, Las Vegas Dissemination Co., and United Tote.

Drew Couto, a consultant for the Thoroughbred Owners of California, again reiterated the organization is seeking fair pricing models that work for all industry participants. He got into a sometimes-spirited debate with professional gambler Dave Cascuna, a member of the NTRA Players' Panel, over the merits of rebates.

Ron Nichol, operations program coordinator for the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, suggested many people really don't know where signals go and which outlets are out there. He said the key is to transmit all wagering data to one central location, something that has been recommended for the United States.