04/23/2009 12:00AM

Glitch halted betting at New York OTB


Wagering through New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. and its account-wagering platform was shut down Wednesday afternoon after a wagering glitch treated thousands of bets placed by patrons as if they were 100 times the face amount, according to officials at OTB and its bet-processing company.

The extent of the glitch's impact on the wagering pools for seven races was unclear on Thursday afternoon, but officials at AmTote, the company that provides bet-processing services for New York City OTB, have determined that 2,713 individual wagers were sold while the glitch affected betting, according to Steve Keech, the president of the company. The tickets were sold on the 12th race at Monticello Raceway, the second race at Golden Gate Fields, the ninth race at Aqueduct, the eighth race at Gulfstream Park, the first race at Indiana Downs, the eighth race at Keeneland, and the 10th race at Tampa Bay Downs.

The glitch recorded any bet made at the outlets or through New York City OTB's account-wagering platform other than win, place, show, or superfecta as if the amount were 100 times the actual amount bet. For example, if a patron bet a $20 exacta box, the ticket would be recorded in the bet-processing network as a $4,000 wager. If the bettor was able to cash the ticket, the wager paid off at the inflated amount, according to Keech, creating an incredible windfall.

The glitch - which occurred when an AmTote operator ran a computer command through the offtrack betting system to prepare the network for the ability to take 50-cent pick four wagers, Keech said - affected betting at the outlets and through the account-wagering system from 4:31 to 4:36 p.m. Eastern, according to AmTote and other officials. At that time, the glitch was discovered and betting was stopped. AmTote restored the system at 5:30, but did not allow any bets to be cashed at the outlets until 8:30, in an attempt to prevent bettors from cashing tickets at the 100-multiple amount.

Denise DiPrima, a spokeswoman for New York City OTB, said that the company was reasonably confident that few wagers were cashed at the windfall amount, in part because most of the winning wagers triggered federal tax-reporting requirements, and in part because mutuel tellers realized that the payoffs were erroneous.

"The tellers caught on pretty quickly that something was awry, because the payouts made no sense, and in those instances they contacted their managers and we issued receipts to patrons while we sorted it out," DiPrima said.

However, in contrast to bettors at outlets who were only charged the face cost of the wager, customers of the account-wagering platform who thought they were betting a $2 ticket, for example, had $200 debited from their accounts. DiPrima said that all of the affected accounts had been credited by Thursday afternoon.

Nationally, bettors in locations other than New York OTB who had winning wagers on the affected races would have received a slightly higher price than if the inflated wagers were not in the pool, so the glitch did not negatively affect any winning bettors.

Under its bet-processing contract, AmTote is liable for any amount of money paid out by racetracks that did not reflect the actual value of the pool. That type of liability clause is standard in any tote contract.

The incident remains under investigation by AmTote, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, and the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, a racetrack-owned security organization, according to officials.