Calif. Committee OKs Wagering Oversight Bill

(edited press release)
A bill requiring independent oversight of all pari-mutuel horse race wagering in California was unanimously approved by the state senate's committee on governmental organization April 28.

The legislation (SB 662) authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), would specifically require the California Horse Racing Board to institute real-time monitoring of all pari-mutuel wagering transactions. The bill will now be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Yee introduced the measure as a result of a 2008 controversy regarding ticket processing at the former Bay Meadows Racecourse in San Mateo. On May 3, 2008, a Thoroughbred owner placed 1,300 $1 “quick pick” bets for the Kentucky Derby superfecta, in which the first four finishers must match the exact order of an individual ticket.  However, the “20” horse was not included in any of the possible 5,200 spots on the bettor’s tickets. The excluded horse was the race favorite and eventual winner, Big Brown. 

Scientific Games, the company that processes such bets at California tracks, said the 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. Scientific Games reached a $200,000 settlement with the California Horse Racing Board over the incident.

“Hundreds, and potentially thousands, of California consumers may have been defrauded,” said Yee. “Consumers deserve to know that the bet they are making is fair and not being comprised. An independent oversight system will provide that assurance.”

On April 22, yet another wagering glitch hit the horse racing industry, according to the Association of Racing Commissioners International. Bets in the amount of $2 placed at New York City Off-Tracking Betting and processed through AmTote were deposited into wagering pools as $200 bets. Numerous Thoroughbred facilities were affected, including Golden Gate Fields in Northern California.

“It imperative that a national wagering oversight program is adopted for the integrity of the sport,” said Yee. “SB 662 will ensure that we protect California consumers, either by joining a national effort or creating our own independent system.”

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