12/12/2002 1:00AM

Autotote plugs some gaps


TUCSON, Ariz. - Autotote, the country's largest bet-processing company, will complete work on a new security system for Aqueduct Racetrack in New York by Dec. 17, company and racing officials said this week at the Symposium on Racing.

This is the first step in a plan by Autotote to install a security system at all of its betting sites in response to gaps in the computer betting network that were exposed during the Breeders' Cup pick six investigation.

The security system, designed by E-Success Inc., will be the first of its kind in the country's betting network. E-Success designs similar systems for Autotote's lottery business.

According to racing officials, the security system will monitor bets that are placed through mutuel machines directly connected to the tote system at Aqueduct. But the security system at Aqueduct will not be able to protect data at the track's vast number of offtrack betting sites. Those sites will need security systems of their own.

Autotote plans to install the security system at all of its wagering sites over the next several months. The country's other major tote companies, United Tote and AmTote, have not announced plans to install similar security systems, which could potentially leave gaps at sites in the betting network that are serviced by United Tote and AmTote.

"We haven't [installed any security systems] to this point," said Joe Tracy, the managing director of United Tote, on Thursday, "but we do want to talk to companies that deal with internal security issues."

Tracy and other tote officials said they expected the National Thoroughbred Racing Association to recommend that all tote companies install security systems. That recommendation will likely come out of a review of the industry's wagering network being conducted by a consulting unit of Ernst and Young, which was hired by the NTRA shortly after the pick six investigation started. Ernst and Young is not expected to issue its recommendations until early in 2003, an NTRA official said.

Tote officials have been reluctant to discuss their systems. Privately, some have complained that they have been unfairly targeted for criticism about their commitment to security and technology. They point out that the pick six scandal was perpetrated by an insider who took advantage of security gaps common to any industry that makes financial transactions.

The E-Success security system will receive the same data that the tote network receives and analyze it independently. An E-Success official said the system would be able to detect any tampering by insiders.

In another development, tote officials said they expected to implement a new transmission procedure for pick six and pick four bets beginning Dec. 22. Currently, information about pick six and pick four bets is not transmitted to the host site's pool until after the next-to-last race in the wager is run.

In the new procedure, data will be transmitted after the first race.

Chris Harn, the former Autotote programmer who has pleaded guilty in the Breeders' Cup pick six case, admitted he manipulated pick four and pick six tickets before wagers were sent to the host site pools. The new transmission times will make it more difficult for an insider to alter bets.