10/19/2003 11:00PM

Harness bets investigated


The New York State Racing and Wagering Board is investigating an incident on Oct. 15 in which a totalizator malfunction allowed bettors at two New York offtrack betting companies to place wagers after a number of harness races had already been run.

The incident, first reported in The New York Times, involved all the Long Island outlets run by Suffolk and Nassau offtrack betting companies and affected harness races from five tracks, including Woodbine and The Meadowlands, according to officials with Scientific Games Racing, the company formerly known as Autotote that processes bets for the two OTB companies.

The past-posted bets were not transmitted into the mutuel pools, according to totalizator officials and Stacy Clifford, a spokeswoman for the racing board. Because the bets were not commingled with legitimate wagers, payoffs were not affected.

The past-posting incident is the second in a month to involve New York racing and Scientific Games. On Sept. 20, a betting-network malfunction affecting more than two dozen sites allowed bets to be placed on a race at Belmont Park after the race had already started, and, in some locations, after the horses had crossed the finish line. The incident remains under investigation in several states.

Both malfunctions originated in systems run by Scientific Games Racing, which was also at the center of the Breeders' Cup pick six scandal last year. A former employee masterminded that scandal by using his access to the tote network to change tickets after races had already been run.

Brooks Pierce, the president of Scientific Games, said on Monday that the Oct. 15 malfunction was a hardware error that was compounded when a technician failed to issue stop-betting orders for Suffolk and Nassau.

The technician was fired, Pierce said.

"Boiling it down to its simplest form, it was hardware failure that was exacerbated by an operator who failed to do what he should have been doing," Pierce said.