By Ray Paulick
Betting windows at 33 simulcast sites remained open on Saturday's Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park until after the Grade 3 stakes race had been run because they did not receive a stop betting signal from the Scientific Games tote system that contracts with California racetracks to handle pari-mutuel wagering.

According to Eual Wyatt Jr., the Inglewood, Calif., track's general manager, all of the money wagered at those sites – properly or improperly—was “thrown out of the pools” and refunded. Wyatt did not know the amount. He said the 33 simulcast sites all went through a single betting hub. (Click here to view the sites affected and the amount wagered at those sites.) 

The incident is under investigation by the California Horse Racing Board.

The past-post wagering 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. Maloney, a frequent speaker at industry gatherings on the issue of integrity of totalizator systems, was recently named vice president of HANA.

Terry McWilliams, a West Coast representative for Scientific Games Racing (formerly Autotote), would not comment on Saturday's betting irregularities, saying, “I am not authorized to speak on behalf of the company. “ McWilliams referred the Paulick Report to a corporate spokesperson who did not immediately return a phone call. Scientific Games Racing president Brooks Pierce also could not be reached for comment.

Here is one explanation of the incident provided to Hollywood Park officials by George Brannen, Western Regional Director of Scientific Games Racing, in an email provided by the California Horse Racing Board to the Paulick Report. “At stop betting of race 9 for Hollywood Park we were not receiving pools from a group of 33 imports,” Brennan wrote. “All of these import processes were running on the Slave system. We had 7 other systems in the room wagering on Hollywood and of those 4 were on the Slave system and did not get the stop betting message from the California tote. The other 3 systems imports that were on the Master system did get the stop betting and shipped pools final on time. Because of this we were pretty sure that a stop betting message was not sent to any of the 33 imports and made the decision to clear and close those 33 sites. We then stopped the Slave system, promoted the Clone to become Slave, restarted all the Golden Gate imports that were also hung on the old Slave so that Golden Gate would not be delayed. A more detailed report will follow.”

“This is my first recollection of this (type of wagering irregularity),” Wyatt said. “The good thing is whatever mechanical error occurred, it was discovered and those bets didn't count.”

At least that's what Scientific Games apparently is telling Hollywood Park officials. This isn't the first irregularity in California regarding the tote company, which in 2008 agreed to a settlement with the California Horse Racing Board over software errors related to “quick pick” wagers. Scientific Games knew of the software flaws for months, yet failed to notify the tracks or CHRB. It wasn't until a
horseplayer discovered the flaws while making “quick pick” superfecta wagers on the 2008 Kentucky Derby that the software problem was made public.

Other Scientific Games tote problems have been reported in other states, including
a Philadelphia Park past posting incident last June 28 when wagering sites in Florida did not receive a stop-betting signal from a Scientific Games hub. Maloney reported a past-posting incident on a race originating at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, which also used Scientific Games. The most infamous Scientific Games/Autotote incident, however, involved the 2002 Breeders' Cup Pick Six scandal when company employees hacked into the system to make Pick Six wagers long after the betting cutoff and took home the entire pool.

Kirk Breed, executive director of the California Horse Racing Board, has ordered an investigation by his agency into the latest Scientific Games mistake. “I have read Scientific Games' explanation and did not understand what it said,” said Breed. “It is their fault. They basically said it's a malfunction, and I accept that as their malfunction, so they are taking responsibility. They're the ones that are going to be charged with responding to whoever lost money or was left out.”

Is Breed satisfied that the past-post wagers on the Los Angeles Handicap were excluded from the pools? “I don't know. I'm not satisfied with anything at this stage,” he said. “All I have is an explanation from Scientific Games sent to Eual at Hollywood Park and which he sent it to me immediately. He and I talked yesterday. Frankly, I do not understand what they are talking about.

“It's like the quick-pick,” Breed added. “It had been going on for nine months and they didn't do anything about it and didn't tell us about it. This is why we are trying to get some real-time monitoring in this state so we can have an independent source looking at our wagering, rather than depending on Scientific Games.”

Copyright © 2009, The Paulick Report

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