By T. D. Thornton
Outlandishly high amounts of money that were bet into exotic pools at Thoroughbred and Standardbred tracks across the country during a several-hour time window Wednesday might have been the result of a feeding frenzy of opportunistic gamblers trying to take advantage of an alleged “glitch” in the FanDuel Racing account wagering system that debited only the base cost of a wager from a customer's account instead of correctly pricing multiple-combination bets at much higher amounts.
Although both FanDuel executives and state regulators were largely mum on the subject of the multi-million-dollar pool spikes as of Thursday afternoon, Ed DeRosa of Horse Racing Nation (HRN) was able to provide insight into the possibility that a profound technological shortcoming might have been the root cause of the massive spike in betting.
DeRosa got the scoop on the potential fraud by publishing screen shots from the account of a now-suspended FanDuel customer who shared betting information from Wednesday under the condition of anonymity.
“The user was able to wheel the entire field for only the cost of the base wager,” DeRosa reported in HRN Nov. 16. “In other words, even though an all-all-all-all dime superfecta in a seven-horse field should cost $84, the bet cost only 10 cents via FanDuel Racing.”
DeRosa further reported that the alleged glitch was made apparent “when five super-exotic wagering pools at four different racetracks handled a historic amount of money, but FanDuel Racing account users exploited the situation in other pools and at other tracks as well.”
Among the Thoroughbred tracks whose pools were inordinately large on Nov. 15 were Churchill Downs, Finger Lakes and Mahoning Valley. The Standardbred tracks Monticello Raceway and The Meadows also reported outsized handles.
Many of the bloated pools were first reported anecdotally on social media by horseplayers on Wednesday afternoon. Although they could only guess as to the possible causes, most folks agreed that the betting handles were far out of line with established norms.
By way of comparison, DeRosa reported in HRN, “Churchill Downs handled $751,000 on the [Nov. 15] race 4 Super High 5, a huge number given that the track handled $967,598 on the bet type for this year's [GI] Kentucky Derby and $118,698 on the [GI] Kentucky Oaks.”
Superfecta and trifecta pools also appeared to have been targeted.
“The two things all the wagers had in common is that they came through FanDuel Racing and involved liberal use of the 'all' button in each position of the wagers,” DeRosa reported.
Prior to HRN revealing the purported glitch, speculation as to the cause of the conspicuously gaudy bets included allegations of money laundering, possible mistakes by computer-robotic wagering players, and misplaced decimal points in the bet-processing code.
On Wednesday, FanDuel Racing put out a statement on that said the company had “identified technical issues and potential fraud related to wagering pools and took the appropriate steps to stop wagering via its platform. This issue is no longer ongoing, and wagering has resumed. The company is undertaking a full review of this matter and will be cooperating with regulatory authorities.”
On Thursday, TDN contacted a FanDuel spokesperson for a follow-up and also emailed commission-level regulators in New York and Kentucky to ask if they were investigating the issue. None of the queries yielded replies prior to deadline for this story.
Curtis Linnell, who is the executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB), which monitors integrity and security in the sport, told TDN in a brief phone interview Thursday that he could not discuss specifics beyond explaining that the TRPB is “actively looking at the occurrences on behalf of regulator and racetrack clients who are involved.”