10/18/2009 11:00PM

Kentucky to weigh earlier bet closing


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky regulators will consider next Tuesday whether betting on races held in the state should be closed at zero minutes to post regardless of whether all the horses have been loaded into the gate, officials for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission said on Monday.

The change would reduce the instances in which the odds on horses drop during the opening moments of a race, according to Lisa Underwood, the executive director of the commission. Bettors consistently grumble that odds changes while a race is being run create the impression that other bettors are able to wager after the gates open, even though officials of racetracks and bet-processing companies contend that past-posting incidents are extremely rare.

The proposal was recommended by the racing commission's Wagering Integrity Committee, which met on Monday morning at the commission's offices outside of Lexington.

The committee also recommended that the racing commission consider a proposal to make any facility in Kentucky that accepts a wager liable to pay off the bet even if the bet is not transmitted into the pools, Underwood said. That proposal will also be considered at the Oct. 28 meeting, according to Underwood.

Late odds changes affect countless horse races every year because of the vast influx of money in the last minute before a race going off and the inability of the bet-processing network to recalculate and transmit new odds instantaneously for each bet that enters the system, according to racing officials. Delays to the updates also occur because display systems such as monitors and tote boards do not instantaneously receive the updated odds. By closing the pools earlier, many of those delays may be halted so that no horse's odds change during the running of the race, according to supporters of the proposal.

Late odds changes have also occurred when the bet-processing system continues to accept bets after a race has started. One member of the racing commission's Wagering Integrity Committee, the high-rolling Lexington handicapper Mike Maloney, has documented at least one instance of the betting pools remaining open when he made bets on a race at Fair Grounds in New Orleans in 2007 for almost one minute after the gates opened.