11/17/2006 12:00AM

Betting glitch fixed, officials say


United Tote and a high-rolling customer of the offshore rebate shop International Racing Group have fixed their software to avoid incidents like the one on Oct. 28, when the customer's robotic wagering system malfunctioned and affected a pick three pool at Calder Race Course, officials from the companies said Thursday.

United Tote and the customer separately applied patches to their software after the customer's robotic system mistakenly generated a series of pick three bets in a $31.74 denomination, rather than a $1 denomination. The program sent those bets into Calder's pools just before post time, a total of nearly $40,000. Officials of United Tote, IRG, and their parent company, Youbet.com, confirmed on Thursday that the program was not supposed to send the wagers in those denominations but had suffered a "glitch."

The incident created a highly unusual pick three pool - four times the typical pool at Calder on a Saturday - and a payoff that was unusually low - a quarter of the parlay price.

Calder shut off the customer's robotic system shortly after the bets were accepted. Contrary to an earlier report in Daily Racing Form, IRG customers were able to continue to wager on Calder's races for a two-week period while the incident was being investigated, but only by phone, according to company officials and Ken Dunn, the president of Calder.

Robotic wagering systems, which emerged in the U.S. in the last 10 years after the practice of rebating made the programs financially viable, typically generate large batches of wagers that are sent directly into commingled pools through the use of an interface designed by bet-processing companies. Because the systems rely on real-time odds to determine the value of the combinations of wagers, the bets are typically sent in just prior to post.

The robotic system's wagers on the Oct. 28 pick three were routed through United Tote's Oregon hub and then sent to Calder Race Course, which is served by the bet-processing company AmTote. Because of new computer code that allows for the acceptance of wagers from foreign jurisdictions that are not in dollar denominations, neither tote system rejected the wagers despite the fact that the bets were not in $1 denominations.

Jeff True, the president of United Tote, said that the bet-processing company had devised a patch that would reject the type of "odd-cent" wagers like those sent by the robotic system. Lou Tavano, the president of IRG, said that the customer had changed the programming for his robotic system to prevent the same mistake.

Officials declined to disclose the identity of the customer or the customer's estimated annual handle, but said that the customer began wagering through IRG with the robotic system in March, shortly after Youbet purchased United Tote.

Tavano stressed that all parties involved fully cooperated with the investigation, which was led by the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau.

"The matter was first discussed by Calder Race Course," Tavano said. "Calder called the TRPB. [The TRPB] called us. We immediately ceased all [robotic wagering] activity to conduct the investigation and give us time to fix the problems. The bug in the system was uncovered and fixed."

The officials said that all computer wagering programs are linked to a player's account, and therefore, should a malfunction begin to send in wagers that exceed the player's available funds, the program would be stopped from sending in additional bets. In addition, the officials said that the robotic wagering programs do not have access to any data other than that available to racetracks and other players.

The Thoroughbred Racing Associations, a racetrack trade group of which Calder is a member, is expected to discuss the incident and the existing controls on the industry's bet-processing network at its next meeting on Dec. 6 in Tucson, Ariz.