10/10/2002 11:00PM

Computer glitch halts contest

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LAS VEGAS - The richest handicapping tournament in the world had its first day of competition canceled Thursday because of a computer failure with new tote machines that were installed for the tournament.

The Championship at The Orleans, which drew a field of 679, would have had a purse in excess of $400,000. Shortly after the contest began, however, the new T3 tote machines from CBS, a local company, weren't reading the contest cards that players use to make their selections.

The Orleans started taking cards by hand as lines backed up 50 deep. They tried unplugging the new machines and installing the old system, but by the time that was done there were accusations of players past-posting. After consulting with its lawyers, The Orleans decided to cancel the first day of the tournament and go ahead with a two-day event, Friday and Saturday.

Seventy players accepted an offer to refund their $500 entry fee, but six of those players later changed their minds and re-entered the tournament.