12/05/2002 1:00AM

Tote companies get cold feet


A panel at the upcoming University of Arizona Symposium on Racing that would have put officials at totalizator companies under the spotlight has been canceled after the officials backed out, according to Doug Reed, the director of the university's Race Track Industry Program, which puts on the conference.

Officials for Autotote, United Tote, and AmTote were scheduled to appear for a question-and-answer session on Wednesday afternoon. The officials had been asked to answer questions from audience members pertaining to the Breeders' Cup pick six scandal, which has revealed several security gaps in the way that tote companies process wagers at racetracks.

Reed said the tote officials had initially agreed but canceled this week "on the advice of legal counsel." Investigators have been reviewing records at the tote companies regarding the pick six investigation, which has so far resulted in a guilty plea from a former employee at Autotote.

Reed said that he expected the panel to be one of the more popular sessions at the four-day racing conference, which is the largest of its kind in the U.S.

Since the pick six investigation was launched on Oct. 27, officials at tote companies have been extremely reluctant to comment on the security controls employed by their systems.

On Wednesday, a Washington law firm, Lisoni and Lisoni, filed a class-action lawsuit against Autotote on behalf of a California man, Jimmy Allard. The suit charges Autotote with negligence.