Software bug prevents Big Brown quick pick racing payoff

Software bug prevents Big Brown quick pick racing payoff

Summary: 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."

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Software bug prevents Big Brown quick pick payoff

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:

Software bug prevents Big Brown quick pick payoff 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.

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.

Topics: Software, CXO, IT Employment

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4 comments
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  • Is anyone else sick and tired...

    of the same, tired argument being pulled out every time a software bug screws consumers? It's like "all software has bugs" has become the stock excuse and people are just supposed to say "Oh, well in that case...". I've been a programmer since the 80s and have never seen the culture of this business so completely unconcerned about quality. To think that failure is now not only acceptable but expected makes me wonder if any kind of turnaround is even possible. Failure used to get people fired. Now it doesn't even get them noticed.
    jasonp@...
    • Putting some corporate execs in prison would help

      Believe it or not considering the organized crime history, but gambling is more tightly regulated and monitored than the securities trade. Hopefully we will see some prosecutions for fraud and racketeering out of this situation, since the mass selling of fraudulent tickets would easily qualify and a criminal enterprise under the RICO statues.

      As to your main point, the corporations have already shown what their solution is to the quality problem:

      Bribe legislators to pass "tort reform" laws shielding corporations from the consequences of bad quality, and spend money on advertising and publicity campaigns to "spin" the news and blow sunshine up consumers' a##es.
      terry flores
  • Fits in well with Big Brown's dirtbag owner...

    See the post from Bloomberg.com (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aGle6KcO9IJ0) for some very eye opening details on the creep who owns the horse.

    He has had numerous fraud investigation from various stock trading regulators, and has cheated several folks out of a lot of money when he was a stock trader.

    He has also been sued by quite a few folks for fraud. He is one lovely fellow.
    IT_Guy_z
  • Bugs are One Thing, but...

    ...but when the bug affects how money is managed, and awarded and the company keeps it a secret, that's another thing all together.

    Look, bugs are a fact of life with software. But if the bug reduces the payout the firm might need to honor, AND keep this bug a secret (and we're talking about a year here), I think one must question (or hold suspect) the company's business practice.

    At best, it's an honest mistake. At worse, it's criminal. And yes, there's a whole range of gradations in between the two end points.
    elizab