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NTRA REPORTS PROGRESS ON SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF MULTI-RACE WAGERS AND IMPROVED WAGERING SYSTEMS SECURITY
Today at the 29th annual Symposium on Racing held in Tucson, Ariz., the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) provided progress reports on the systematic review of multi-race wagers made in 2002 and on the racing industry's adoption of interim measures for improved electronic wagering security that were recommended by the NTRA Wagering Technology Working Group (WTWG) immediately following the discovery of a fraudulent wagering scheme involving multi-race wagers, including the October 26 Breeders' Cup Pick 6.
Pursuant to the recommendations of the WTWG, according to NTRA officials, software for the progressive scanning of all wagering pools in connection with multi-race wagers after each race or "leg" of such multi-race wager has been tested and installed at a number of racetracks and wagering hubs. Full national implementation is to be completed within two weeks. Similarly, all locations that did not previously use equipment for the recording and coding of interactive voice response (IVR) or touch-tone wagers have installed or will install the devices.
The wager review process, already underway, is being overseen by Giuliani Partners. A newly formed WTWG subcommittee is working with Giuliani Partners on the review of the multi-race wagers. The subcommittee includes Alan Marzelli, president of The Jockey Club; Ed Hannah, executive vice president of corporate development and general counsel for Magna Entertainment Corp.; Jim Gallagher, vice president of pari-mutuel operations for the New York Racing Association; Michael Shagan, a longtime consultant to the pari-mutuel industry; Dave Sweazy, vice president of operations for Churchill Downs Incorporated; Ken Kirchner, NTRA senior vice president of product development; Paul Berube, president of the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau; NTRA Deputy Commissioner and COO Greg Avioli; Chris Scherf, executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA); and Jim Quinn, noted Thoroughbred racing handicapper and author.
Using information assembled by Equibase, the industry's data provider, the subcommittee, working with NTRA member tracks, will examine Pick 4, Pick 6 and similar wagers meeting certain criteria, going back to the beginning of 2002. Initially, the focus will be on paperless transactions (i.e., account wagering via phone and the Internet).
"With cooperation from every segment of the industry, we have met our interim goals for improvements to the security of the pari-mutuel system," said NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith. "Going forward, the systematic review will help us in the formulation of durable reforms to be put in place at the earliest feasible time to strengthen the integrity of the pari-mutuel system."
The NTRA presentation included remarks by Greg Avioli on the review process; American Horse Council President Jay Hickey, who spoke on the legislative ramifications of the system-wide review; Keith Chamblin, NTRA senior vice president of marketing and industry relations, John Della Volpe, a partner in the firm of SDS Research, and Jim Quinn, who reviewed consumer research on and fan response to a tote review and to the controversy surrounding the Breeders' Cup Pick 6 betting fraud; and Chris Scherf, who provided a racetrack owner/operators' perspective on the operational changes currently being undertaken to improve tote security.
In conjunction with the NTRA, officials from the Thoroughbred Racing Associations' 2020 Committee also announced the Committee's recommendation that the cancel delay time for pari-mutuel tickets be moved to zero seconds prior to post, so that late-cancelled tickets cannot delay the reporting of final pools and the posting of final odds. The Committee also advocates that odds data transmissions cycle in 45 seconds or less and that odds cycles for each track -- including Standardbred, Quarter Horse, Greyhound and Thoroughbred -- be posted at the TRA and NTRA Web sites.
The next priority after the completion of the progressive scans, 2020 Committee officials added, will be expediting the transmission of win, place and show wager information to the wagering hubs, a re-prioritizing of data transmission that is expected to lessen delays in the posting of final odds by up to 30 seconds. The Committee also addressed configuration issues with the tote companies that ensure wagering at a guest site automatically closes at zero minutes to post if the communication link has been interrupted and it may not receive the stop-betting command from the host.
"The Committee was working on these issues prior to the Breeders' Cup Pick 6 incident," said Scherf, "so we are confident that we can implement these improvements to the tote system in a timely fashion."
Funding for the review process will be obtained through the Wagering Integrity Alliance (WIA), which will help fund the current assessments, design of future wagering security improvements, public communications aimed at strengthening customer confidence in pari-mutuel wagering and related matters. The WIA will include other organizations, business and individuals committed to systems security improvements in connection with pari-mutuel wagering on horseracing.
The purpose of the Alliance is to offer all industry stakeholders the opportunity to participate in the process of improving wagering security. Members of the Alliance now include the following Founding Members: National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Breeders' Cup Limited, Churchill Downs Incorporated, Magna Entertainment Corp., New York Racing Association, The Jockey Club, TVG Network and the Thoroughbred sales companies Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton (with others to be announced). Alliance Supporters include American Quarter Horse Association, Anonymous, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Los Alamitos Racecourse, NTRA member racetracks via a one-year voluntary reduction in NTRA co-op advertising reimbursement, NTRA member horsemen's associations, Oak Tree Racing Association, tote companies Autotote, AmTote and United Tote (with others to be announced), Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and Winnercomm.
The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of horseracing interests, including the American Quarter Horse Association, charged with increasing popularity of horseracing and improving economic conditions for industry participants. The NTRA and Breeders' Cup Limited also conduct the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Thoroughbred racing's year-end Championships consisting of eight races and $13 million in purses and awards, the Breeders' Cup Stakes Program and the Great State Challenge. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. NTRA press releases appear on the NTRA Web site, www.ntra.com.
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