A horse racing bettor discovered a software bug preventing race payoffs under certain conditions. Following inquiries from California's Horse Racing Board, Scientific Games, which manufactured the race management software / hardware system, reported a bug that "dropped the last horse in the field from quick pick tickets on all 7,000 of its BetJet machines nationwide."
According to the San Mateo County Times, a wide-ranging Kentucky Derby bet exposed the bug:
The attention stems from a problem discovered by an unidentified bettor at Bay Meadows Race Track who put down 1,300 one-dollar quick pick superfecta bets on the Kentucky Derby. Not one of the computer-generated tickets included the eventual winner, Big Brown.
In an interesting twist, California lawmakers are calling for a fraud investigation against Scientific Games, since it appears the company knew of the problem for months before acknowledging the bug. Blood-Horse Magazine reports:
In a May 15 e-mail to Ed Martin, president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, CHRB chairman Richard Shapiro contended that SG "apparently became aware of the problem in February, but they failed to disclose it to customers or certainly to us in California."
For the geeks among us, Scientific Games has the look and feel of an enterprise software and systems company. From their website:
SG Racing’s service investments include centralized services for reporting, accounting and data warehousing and a revamped field service organization designed to leverage the benefits of the Quantum™ Data Center and optimize local service.
This case shares similarities with the recent Moody's bug. In both situations, third parties discovered a software bug leading to accusations of vendor covered-ups. Both companies face investigation for allegedly hiding their bug.
- See also: Moody’s software bug screws investors
The large public outcry in both cases results from the information hiding; the bugs themselves are viewed as a fact of life. These cases reinforce a fundamental truth about IT and software problems: failure is a function of management not technology.