OKLAHOMA - - Gamblers Baffled By Technical Glitch

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Title: Gamblers Are Baffled By Glitch

By TIM HOOVER World Staff Writer 4/11/00

Beating the system is hard for some bettors at the racetrack. For the second time in three weeks, a technical glitch with the simulcasting system at Fair Meadows Racetrack on Friday meant some gamblers weren't able to place their bets into a national wagering pool.

The good news, however, is that some people playing the ponies made more money because of the glitch, said Ron Shotts, Fair Meadows director of racing.

"A lot of times it works to their (patrons') advantage when the pools don't merge," Shotts said.

Don't tell that to Darrla James and Paula Gentry, though.

They've started calling the track "Unfair Meadows" after a problem with telephone lines on March 24 resulted in bets in Tulsa not making it into the national pool for a race in Louisiana.

James and Gentry, who had picked all four winning horses in order -- a superfecta wager -- received only the $249 local payoff instead of the $3,000-plus in the national pool.

Horse racing regulations say that in the event the local pool does not merge with the national pool, the track only has to make good on the local payoff.

Officials with the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission say such glitches are common across the country. They said they could not provide figures on how often such occurrences take place at Oklahoma tracks.

On Friday, Fair Meadows could not place simulcasting wagers on a race in Kentucky into the national pool.

"I don't know that it's odd," Shotts said of the proximity of Friday's problem to the March 24 glitch.

However, the snafu wasn't a bad thing for some gamblers.

Because odds are determined by the amount of money bet on a race, a local payoff often can be more than a national payoff, he said.

In Friday's case, seven winners made more money from Fair Meadows' payoff than they would have if their wagers had merged with national pools. The other three winners would have made just a few dollars more if their bets had placed into the national pool.

And, despite rumors to the contrary, Shotts said there were no multi-thousand-dollar winners in the No. 7 race; The biggest payoff was $128.

Nonetheless, he said the problems were frustrating.

"It's unfortunate. We wish the pools would merge," he said. "We don't own the phone lines, though."

The track takes wagers on 21,630 simulcast races per year, and these glitches have occurred perhaps four times in the last four years since simulcasting started, Shotts said.

"Twenty-one-thousand to one. Those are pretty good odds."

Tim Hoover, World staff writer, can be reached at 581-8447 or via e-mail at tim.hoover@tulsaworld.com.



-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), April 11, 2000

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